Optimal Reconstruction Method for Large Radionecrosis Following Breast Cancer Treatment: Utility of Free Transverse Rectus Abdominis Myocutaneous Flap Using Contralateral Internal Mammary Artery as Recipient

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Abstract

Introduction

In extensive radionecrosis following radiotherapy for breast cancer (BC) treatment, the defect after excision can be reconstructed with a transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (TRAM) flap. In this study, we report outcome of free TRAM flap using contralateral internal mammary artery (IMA) as a recipient in comparison with pedicled TRAM.

Methods

We reviewed cases of chest wall radionecrosis following BC treatment during the past 8 years. Radionecrosis involving full-thickness soft tissue with defect sizes greater than 10 × 10 cm were included. We compared the outcomes of patients who underwent reconstruction with either pedicled TRAM flaps or free TRAM flaps. We used IMA as a recipient for free TRAM flap, whereas we used contralateral superior epigastric artery–based flap for pedicled TRAM.

Results

A total of 14 BC patients underwent chest wall reconstruction due to radionecrosis: 7 received pedicled TRAM flaps, 5 received free TRAM flaps, and 2 were excluded because of the small defect size. The pedicled and free TRAM groups were similar in patient demographics and defect size. However, distal flap loss rate was significantly higher in the pedicled TRAM group compared with the free TRAM group (P = 0.028). There was no difference in abdominal hernia incidence between the 2 groups (P = 0.100).

Conclusions

Wide chest wall defects caused by radionecrosis following BC treatment can be successfully reconstructed with a free TRAM flap that uses a contralateral IMA as a recipient. The free TRAM flap demonstrates a lower rate of distal flap loss than the pedicled TRAM flap, hence reduces the risk of severe morbidity.

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