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Tex Heart Inst J. 2009;36(4):298-302.

Pedicled latissimus dorsi muscle flap: routine use in high-risk thoracic surgery.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of California, Irvine Medical Center, Orange, California 92868, USA.


Bronchopleural fistula and empyema are serious complications after thoracic surgical procedures, and their prevention is paramount. Herein, we review our experience with routine prophylactic use of the pedicled ipsilateral latissimus dorsi muscle flap. From January 2004 through February 2006, 10 surgically high-risk patients underwent intrathoracic transposition of this muscle flap for reinforcement of bronchial-stump closure or obliteration of empyema cavities. Seven of the patients were chronically immunosuppressed, 5 were severely malnourished (median preoperative serum albumin level, 2.4 g/dL), and 5 had severe underlying obstructive pulmonary disease (median forced expiratory volume in 1 second, 44% of predicted level). Three upper lobectomies and 1 completion pneumonectomy were performed in order to treat massive hemoptysis that was secondary to complex aspergilloma. One patient underwent left pneumonectomy due to ruptured-cavitary primary lung lymphoma. One upper lobectomy was performed because of necrotizing, localized Mycobacterium avium-intracellulare infection. One patient underwent right upper lobectomy and main-stem bronchoplasty for carcinoma after chemoradiation therapy. In 3 patients, the pedicled latissimus dorsi muscle was used to obliterate chronic empyema cavities and to buttress the closure of underlying bronchopleural fistulas. No operative deaths or recurrent empyemas resulted. Two patients retained peri-flap air that required no surgical intervention. We conclude that the use of transposed pedicled latissimus dorsi muscle flap effectively and reliably prevents clinically overt bronchopleural fistula and recurrent empyema. We advocate its routine use in first-time and selected reoperative thoracotomies in patients who are undergoing high-risk lung resection or reparative procedures.


Bronchial fistula/prevention & control/surgery; empyema, pleural/etiology/prevention & control/surgery; muscle, skeletal/surgery/transplantation; pleural diseases/prevention & control/surgery; pneumonectomy/adverse effects; postoperative complications; reconstructive surgical procedures; risk factors; surgical flaps/methods; thoracic surgical procedures/methods; treatment outcome

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