Dual-Pedicle Flap for Unilateral Autologous Breast Reconstruction Revisited: Evolution and Optimization of Flap Design over 15 Years

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Abstract

Background:

In thin patients or when a significant amount of skin is needed, use of the entire abdomen to reconstruct a single breast may be necessary. In this article, the authors present their 15-year experience in dual-pedicle flap evolution and optimization of flap design.

Methods:

A retrospective review was conducted of all bipedicle flaps performed from 2000 to 2015.

Results:

Overall, 57 patients (mean age, 49.2 years; mean body mass index, 26.2 kg/m2) underwent dual-pedicle flap reconstruction of a unilateral mastectomy defect. Thirteen patients had a history of smoking, 30 patients had previously undergone irradiation, and 21 patients underwent immediate reconstruction. Eleven bipedicle flaps were performed with a pedicle transverse rectus abdominis musculocutaneous (TRAM) flap coupled to a free TRAM (n = 4), muscle-sparing TRAM (n = 4), or deep inferior epigastric artery perforator (DIEP) (n = 3) flap, and all were performed from 2000 to 2007. The thoracodorsal vessels (n = 8) were used more frequently earlier in the study period with the internal mammary vessels, whereas the antegrade/retrograde internal mammary vessels were used in the remaining patients, except for three patients in whom the internal mammary vessels and an internal mammary vessel perforator were used. Over the study period, there was an increase in the use of DIEP and superficial inferior epigastric artery flaps and the internal mammary vessels as recipients. Complications included delayed wound healing (n = 6), abdominal bulge (n = 2), cellulitis (n = 4), seroma (n = 3), and fat necrosis (n = 4). There was one partial flap loss where the superficial inferior epigastric artery portion of the dual-pedicle flap was lost.

Conclusions:

Dual-pedicle free flaps can be performed safely and reliably. Use of DIEP flaps maximizes pedicle length, and the internal mammary vessels can be used reliably in an antegrade and retrograde fashion to perfuse both components of the dual-pedicle flap.

CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Therapeutic, IV.

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