The donor site morbidity of free DIEP flaps and free TRAM flaps for breast reconstruction
Blondeel, N × Vanderstraeten, G G Monstrey, S J Van Landuyt, K Tonnard, P Lysens, Roeland Boeckx, W D Matton, G #
British journal of plastic surgery vol:50 issue:5 pages:322-30
This study was undertaken to demonstrate that the deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap can provide the well-known advantages of autologous breast reconstruction with lower abdominal tissue while avoiding the abdominal wall complications of the transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (TRAM) flap. Eighteen unilateral free DIEP flap breast reconstruction patients were assessed 12-30 months (mean 17.8 months) after surgery. Clinical examination, physical exercises and isokinetic dynamometry were performed preoperatively and two months and one year postoperatively. Intraoperative segmental nerve stimulation, visual evaluation and postoperative CT scans were also used to quantify the damage to the rectus muscle. The 18 patients were then compared with 20 free TRAM flap patients and 20 non-operated controls. Two DIEP flap patients presented with abdominal asymmetry. A limited decrease of trunk flexing strength was noticed but rotatory function was intact. Ten of the TRAM flap patients had umbilical or abdominal asymmetry, bulging or hernias. TRAM flap patients showed a statistically significant reduction in strength to flex and to rotate the upper trunk compared to both the one year postoperative DIEP flap group and the control group. The answers to a questionnaire revealed impairment of activities of daily living for some TRAM flap patients while the activities of all DIEP flap patients were unaffected. Our data demonstrate that the free DIEP flap can limit the surgical damage to the rectus abdominis and oblique muscles to an absolute minimum. We believe it is worthwhile to spend extra operative time, the main disadvantage of this technique, to limit late postoperative weakness of the lower abdominal wall.