Preserving a patent DIEP pedicle to facilitate salvage breast reconstruction with a second free flap: A case report

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Abstract

Surgeons performing free flap breast reconstruction need to have a range of techniques in their armamentarium to successfully salvage cases of flap failure. We present a case of 47-year-old patient who suffered near-total right breast deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap failure 3 days post-bilateral immediate breast reconstruction with DIEP flaps. At debridement, the DIEP pedicle was noted to be patent with preserved perfusion to a small segment of tissue around the origin of the pedicle. This tissue and the DIEP pedicle itself were therefore preserved to facilitate subsequent breast reconstruction using stacked transverse upper gracilis flaps anastomosed end-to-end to the original DIEP pedicle. Post-operatively, both flaps remained viable with no further complications and symmetrical aesthetic result maintained at 2 months follow-up post-salvage procedure. This case emphasizes the importance of exercising caution during initial debridement for free flap failure to preserve viable tissue in the flap and pedicle, particularly in circumstances where vascular flow in the pedicle is maintained, to facilitate successful salvage reconstruction.

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