TRAM Flaps and Prostheses

ABSTRACT: The Coincidence of TRAM Flaps and Prostheses in the Setting of Breast Reconstruction

It is well known that transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (TRAM) flaps can be used to replace unsatisfactory prosthetic breast reconstructions; however, little has been written about the scope of breast implant use in TRAM flap patients.

In this study, to ascertain the range of such therapeutic options, their frequency, and their clinical outcomes, the authors retrospectively reviewed the senior author's breast reconstruction experience from 1989 to 2000 with patients in whom both a TRAM flap and an implant were used for breast reconstruction.

The authors examined the surgical indications, body habitus, bra size, chest wall irradiation history, flap type, implant type, complications, and outcomes for those patients with TRAM flap and breast implant combinations.

Thirty-two women who had 50 (various) combinations of a TRAM flap and a breast implant were identified. There were more clinical scenarios than patients because many of the women had multiple scenarios.

The 50 combination scenarios were then divided into six groups. Group I consisted of 14 patients who had elective prostheses placed beneath simultaneous TRAM flaps; group II consisted of 10 patients who had TRAM flaps with contralateral prosthetic reconstruction (in which two implants were received before the TRAM flaps, five implants were received simultaneously with the TRAM flaps, and three implants were received after the TRAM flaps); group III consisted of eight patients who had contralateral augmentation in addition to their TRAM flaps; group IV consisted of 11 patients who had TRAM flaps that were used to cover or replace previous prosthetic reconstructions; group V consisted of four patients in whom prostheses were used to augment or improve previous TRAM flap reconstructions; and group VI consisted of three patients who required prostheses to either reconstruct or salvage total or near-total TRAM flap failures.

A broad range of implant types was used, although anatomic saline implants predominated. Forty-one percent of the patients in the review had undergone irradiation during the course of their treatment for breast cancer.

Eight of the 32 patients experienced a total of twelve complications, four of which were related to the implants and eight of which involved the TRAM flaps and abdominal donor sites.

Although complex, the wide variety of potential TRAM flap/breast implant combinations can be useful for patients with challenging reconstructive scenarios, particularly those that involve radiation therapy.

In the group of patients reviewed by the authors, TRAM flaps were most often used in successful partnership either on the same side as or opposite to an implant reconstruction. A TRAM flap was used to salvage or replace an unsatisfactory implant reconstruction in less than a third of the patients.

From a risk point of view, implants used opposite a TRAM flap reconstruction had a lower incidence of complication than did implants used beneath TRAM flaps.

[08/01/2002; Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery]

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