Fewer Revisions in Abdominal-based Free Flaps than Latissimus Dorsi Breast Reconstruction after Radiation

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The most commonly chosen flaps for delayed breast reconstruction after postmastectomy radiation therapy (PMRT) are abdominal-based free flaps (ABFFs) and pedicled latissimus dorsi (LD) musculocutaneous flaps. The short-and long-term advantages and disadvantages of delayed ABFFs versus LD flaps after PMRT remain unclear. We hypothesized that after PMRT, ABFFs would result in fewer postoperative complications and a lower incidence of revision surgery than LD flaps.


We retrospectively reviewed a prospectively maintained database of consecutive patients who underwent unilateral, delayed breast reconstruction after PMRT using ABFFs or pedicled LD flaps with implants at the MD Anderson Cancer Center between January 1, 2001, and December 31, 2011. We compared outcomes and additional surgeries required between the 2 groups. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression modeling analyzed the relationships between patient and reconstruction characteristics and postoperative outcomes.


A total of 139 consecutive patients’ breast reconstructions were evaluated: 101 ABFFs (72.7%) versus 38 LDs (27.3%). Average follow-up was similar for ABFF and LD reconstructions. Although ABFF and LD reconstructions experienced similar rates of overall (30.7% vs 23.7%, respectively; P = 0.53), donor-site (8.91% vs 5.13%, respectively; P = 0.48), and flap (20.7% vs 17.9%, respectively; P = 0.37) complications, the LD reconstructions required more additional surgeries (92.1% vs 67.3%; P < 0.001). Furthermore, LDs required more revision surgeries more than 1 year after reconstruction (37.1% vs 14.7%; P = 0.02).


Although early complication rates were similar for both types of reconstructions, ABFFs seem to have the advantage of providing a more durable result that required fewer revision surgeries in the long term.

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