There has been an international drive towards the use of abdominal-based perforator (deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) or superficial inferior epigastric artery (SIEA)) flaps for breast reconstruction as they provide the ideal tissue whilst minimizing donor site morbidity, post-operative pain and recovery times. Ultimately, what is desired is a safe and reliable reconstruction. We retrospectively reviewed 245 consecutive abdominal-based free flaps performed by three surgeons at a single institution between January 2002 and March 2008. Primary breast reconstructions were planned as DIEPs, but a safe, flexible approach to flap selection was adopted with the most appropriate flap performed depending on the perforator anatomy at the time of surgery. Chest wall resurfacing procedures for extensive recurrent disease, inflammatory breast carcinoma or following radionecrosis were planned as transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (TRAM) flaps. The incidence of flap complications was compared including total and partial flap loss, returns to operating room, seroma, abdominal hernia/bulge, fat necrosis and delayed wound healing. Patient age, body mass index (BMI), smoking status, co-morbidity and pre- and post-operative radiotherapy were recorded. Two hundred patients, mean age 48 years (range, 26–74 years), underwent a total of 245 abdominal-based microvascular breast reconstructions. Twelve salvage TRAM flaps were performed for chest wall resurfacing. Of the remaining 233 flaps, 151 (65%) were immediate and 82 (35%) were delayed reconstructions. Flaps included 171 DIEPs, 38 muscle-sparing (MS)-TRAMs, 2 TRAMs and 22 SIEA flaps. Of the 233 reconstructions, 39 flaps (16.7%) in 31 patients received radiotherapy. Mean follow-up was 2.6 years. There were three (1.3%) complete flap losses and three (1.3%) partial flap losses. Rates of fat necrosis were 3.0% and abdominal hernia/bulge 1.7%. We present an algorithm to aid decision-making in autologous breast reconstruction that reflects our safe flexible approach. We have achieved excellent success rates in autologous breast reconstruction and conclude that in order to minimize complications, a safe flexible approach towards muscle harvest must be maintained in our drive to use perforator flaps.
European Journal of Plastic Surgery – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 1, 2012
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