Evaluation of Late Results in Breast Reconstruction by Latissimus Dorsi Flap and Prosthesis Implantation

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Background:Breast reconstruction by latissimus dorsi myocutaneous flap in combination with a prosthesis is a widely used, well-established procedure. Short- and medium-term evaluation after this procedure is well described in the literature, but there have been no evaluations of the late course (over 10 years) published until now.Methods:In a retrospective study, 68 patients operated on by means of this technique at the authors’ institution from 1981 to 1993 resulting in a minimal follow-up of 10 years were included. Patients were invited to an interrogation, clinical examination, and photographic documentation (n = 51). Incidence of late flap or prosthesis-related complications, number of and indications for corrective procedures, and the correlation of the patients’ subjective judgment and objective results in the late course have been the main interest of the authors’ survey.Results:The authors found that 50 percent of the patients needed a late reoperation for change or removal of the prosthesis. Seven (10 percent) of 68 patients needed a definitive removal of the implant in the late course. Assessment of the photographic documentation of the late result by four nonprofessionals showed that the objective aesthetic results of a considerable number of the authors’ reconstructions were not sufficient.Conclusion:The procedure combines two basic techniques of reconstructive surgery, the soft-tissue restoration by a pedicled flap as the autologous reconstructive component and the volume reconstruction by prosthesis. Therefore, these patients are subject to a cumulation of the basic morbidity of the two techniques. The authors conclude that the indication for this procedure should be restricted to patients not qualifying for “pure” reconstructive techniques.

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