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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2005 Jan;115(1):105-13.

Choice of recipient vessels in delayed TRAM flap breast reconstruction after radiotherapy.

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Department of Plastic Surgery, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030-4009, USA.


This study compared the use of the internal mammary and thoracodorsal recipient vessels in a uniform group of patients who underwent delayed TRAM flap reconstruction after radiotherapy, focusing on usability rates and outcomes. The authors identified 123 delayed TRAM flap patients who had undergone postmastectomy radiotherapy from a prospective database (1990 to 2001). Recipient vessel unusability rates were calculated on the basis of reports of inspection of a vessel, either by direct intraoperative dissection or by findings from color Doppler examination (internal mammary vessels only). Charts were reviewed for outcomes including flap loss, vascular complications, fat necrosis, and lymphedema; t-test and chi-square analyses were performed to compare outcomes and unusability rates, and multiple regression analysis was performed to determine factors influencing outcome. Of the 123 planned free TRAM flaps, 106 were completed as free flaps and 17 were performed as pedicled flaps because of unusable recipient vessels. Of the free flaps, 45 were anastomosed to the internal mammary vessels, 55 to the thoracodorsal vessels, and six to other vessels. The internal mammary and thoracodorsal groups did not differ significantly in body mass index, abdominal scars, smoking history, time delay between irradiation and TRAM flap reconstruction, or flap ischemia time. Radiation doses to the axilla (thoracodorsal), internal mammary chain, and supraclavicular fossa were similar between the groups. The internal mammary vessels were rejected in 11 (20 percent) of 56 cases, and the thoracodorsal vessels were rejected in 19 (26 percent) of 74 cases (p = 0.42). In cases with unusable internal mammary vessels, 46 percent (n = 5) had inadequate veins, 27 percent (n = 3) had inadequate arteries, and in 27 percent (n = 3) both vessels were inadequate. In the 19 cases with unusable thoracodorsal vessels, 84 percent (n = 16) were excessively scarred, 11 percent (n = 2) had inadequate vessels, and 5 percent (n = 1) were absent. Outcomes were similar regardless of recipient vessels used (internal mammary versus thoracodorsal): total flap loss, 0 percent versus 4 percent (p = 0.20); vascular complications, 6.7 percent versus 11 percent (p = 0.46); arm lymphedema, 4.4 percent versus 9 percent (p = 0.37); partial flap loss, 9 percent versus 6 percent (p = 0.54); and fat necrosis, 18 percent versus 15 percent (p = 0.69). Multivariate analysis revealed a trend for higher complication rates in smokers and with the use of the thoracodorsal vessels as the recipients. Overall, no discernible unusability or outcome differences were detected between the internal mammary and thoracodorsal groups.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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