A Systematic Review of Functional Donor-Site Morbidity after Latissimus Dorsi Muscle Transfer

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Background:The authors performed a comprehensive literature review regarding functional impairment after latissimus dorsi muscle transfer, to investigate functional changes in the donor site and the potential impact on patients’ daily lives.Methods:The PubMed database was searched for articles regarding functional donor-site morbidity following latissimus dorsi muscle flap harvest. Articles discussing the thoracodorsal artery perforator flap, which shares the same donor sites with the latissimus dorsi muscle flap, were also included. Functional morbidity was analyzed based on questionnaire of subjective symptoms, Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand questionnaire, shoulder range of motion, and shoulder strength.Results:Twenty-two articles representing 719 cases in 644 patients were reviewed, including seven prospective and 15 retrospective cohort studies. As a questionnaire summary from eight articles, 94 of 232 patients (41 percent) experienced any kind of discomfort at the donor site. In the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand questionnaire from seven articles, little difficulty in daily activities but significant difficulties in sports and art activities were observed. Nine of 13 articles reported some limitations of shoulder motion, particularly during the early postoperative period, and four other articles detected little limitation. Eight of 12 articles reported some shoulder strength weakness over time, and shoulder extension, adduction, and internal rotation were commonly involved. The muscle-sparing latissimus dorsi and thoracodorsal artery perforator flaps showed low functional morbidity.Conclusions:Functional impairment of the shoulder could develop after latissimus dorsi muscle flap transfer. Knowledge of the flap’s functional morbidity will allow surgeons to inform patients regarding donor-site expectations and to accomplish better surgical outcomes.

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