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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2001 Jul;108(1):78-82.

Comparison of immediate and delayed free TRAM flap breast reconstruction in patients receiving postmastectomy radiation therapy.

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  • 1Department of Plastic Surgery, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

Abstract

Tumor pathologic features and the extent of nodal involvement dictate whether radiation therapy is given after mastectomy for breast cancer. It is generally well accepted that radiation negatively influences the outcome of implant-based breast reconstruction. However, the long-term effect of radiation therapy on the outcome of breast reconstruction with the free transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (TRAM) flap is still unclear. For patients who need postmastectomy radiation therapy, the optimal timing of TRAM flap reconstruction is controversial. This study compares the outcome of immediate and delayed free TRAM flap breast reconstruction in patients who received postmastectomy radiation therapy. All patients at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center who received postmastectomy radiation therapy and who also underwent free TRAM flap breast reconstruction between January of 1988 and December of 1998 were included in the study. Patients who received radiation therapy before delayed TRAM flap reconstruction were compared with patients who underwent immediate TRAM flap reconstruction before radiation therapy. Early and late complications were compared between the two groups. Early complications included vessel thrombosis, partial or total flap loss, mastectomy skin flap necrosis, and local wound-healing problems, whereas late complications included fat necrosis, volume loss, and flap contracture of free TRAM breast mounds. Late complications were evaluated at least 1 year after the completion of radiation therapy for patients who had delayed reconstruction and at least 1 year after reconstruction for patients who had immediate reconstruction. During the study period, 32 patients had immediate TRAM flap reconstruction before radiation therapy and 70 patients had radiation therapy before TRAM flap reconstruction. Mean follow-up times for the immediate reconstruction and delayed reconstruction groups were 3 and 5 years, respectively. The mean radiation dose was 50 Gy in the immediate reconstruction group and 51 Gy in the delayed reconstruction group. One complete flap loss occurred in the delayed reconstruction group, and no flap loss occurred in the immediate reconstruction group. The incidence of early complications did not differ significantly between the two groups. However, the incidence of late complications was significantly higher in the immediate reconstruction group than in the delayed reconstruction group (87.5 percent versus 8.6 percent; p = 0.000). Nine patients (28 percent) in the immediate reconstruction group required an additional flap to correct the distorted contour from flap shrinkage and severe flap contraction. These findings indicate that, in patients who are candidates for free TRAM flap breast reconstruction and need postmastectomy radiation therapy, reconstruction should be delayed until radiation therapy is complete.

PMID:
11420508
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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