Background: Harvest of transverse rectus abdominis musculocutaneous (TRAM) flaps for breast reconstruction leaves a variable defect in the anterior rectus fascia. Inadequate closure of the defect could lead to the development of hernia or abdominal wall bulging. Various techniques have been developed to reduce the incidence of hernia and abdominal wall bulging. The authors describe a novel technique of using a regenerative human acellular matrix (AlloDerm) as a fascial substitute in closing the defect.
Methods: Fifty-four consecutive patients who opted for pedicle TRAM flap procedures for breast reconstruction postmastectomy were scheduled for donor-site repair with the use of AlloDerm. AlloDerm was placed interpositionally as an inlay graft to mimic the anterior rectus fascia.
Results: Hernia or infection did not develop in any of the patients. There was a greater incidence of seroma and bulging among the first 18 patients, with eight seromas (44.4 percent) and six bulges (33.3 percent). When the technique was ameliorated in the next 36 patients, there was a reduction in the incidence of seromas (16.7 percent, p = 0.03) and bulges (16.7 percent, p = 0.17). Of the three patients who experienced wound dehiscence, partial AlloDerm exposure occurred in two, but was resolved without further consequences. Biopsy specimens of AlloDerm, obtained 12 and 14 months after TRAM donor-site repair, showed full tissue integration. The cell density, vasculature, and collagen orientation in the biopsies were consistent with abdominal fascia tissue.
Conclusion: Based on these results, the authors recommend the use of AlloDerm as an alternative option for abdominal fascia closure after TRAM flap harvest for breast reconstruction.