Infection of PTFE mesh 15 years following pedicled TRAM flap breast reconstruction: mechanism and aetiology
The pedicled transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (TRAM) flap procedure is still widely used for breast reconstruction. The repair of the flap harvest site in the transverse rectus abdominis muscle and sheath is often assisted by the use of prosthetic meshes. This decreases the risk of abdominal wall weakness and herniation but, being a foreign body, it also carries the risk of infection. In this report, we describe the case of a 63-year-old patient who, whilst receiving chemotherapy for metastatic breast cancer, presented with an infected polytetrafluoroethylene mesh 15 years after pedicled TRAM flap immediate breast reconstruction. This necessitated mesh removal to treat the infection. Following a thorough review of the English literature, this is the longest recorded presentation of an abdominal prosthetic mesh infection. The mechanism and aetiology of such a late complication are discussed.