Functional Donor Site Morbidity Following Latissimus Dorsi Muscle Flap Transfer

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The latissimus dorsi flap is highly versatile and reliable, making it a commonly transferred muscle flap. This study evaluated the subjective donor site morbidity, with special attention to activities of daily living. A review of 85 consecutive female patients who underwent latissimus dorsi muscle transfer was performed. Patients were mailed detailed questionnaires concerning cosmesis, use of the shoulder, time to return to work, weakness, and multiple specific activities of daily living. Up to 39% of patients reported at least moderate weakness, 50% experienced back numbness/tightness, and 22% of patients rated their scar as unacceptable. A significant number of patients had difficulty with vigorous activities of daily living (P < 0.05) compared with more sedentary activities. We conclude that latissimus harvest is not totally without postoperative donor site morbidity, and patients should be counseled accordingly prior to flap transfer.

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