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Simultaneous Bilateral Breast Reconstruction With the Transverse Rectus Abdominus Musculocutaneous Free Flap

Khouri,,, Roger K. M.D.*‡§; Ahn, Christina Y. M.D.; Salzhauer, Michael A. M.D.; Scherff, Deeni R.N.*; Shaw, William W. M.D.

Advances in Surgical Technique

Objective The purpose of the study was to assess the results and morbidity associated with simultaneous bilateral TRAM free flap breast reconstruction and describe refinements in its surgical technique.

Summary Background Data Bilateral prophylactic total mastectomies might be an agreeable option for those patients at highest risk for breast cancer if autogenous tissue breast reconstruction could be performed with reasonable technical ease and acceptable morbidity. However, some surgeons harbor reservations regarding the extensiveness of the surgery, the associated morbidity, and the aesthetic quality of the resulting outcome.

Methods A multicenter retrospective review of clinical experience with 120 consecutive patients who underwent 240 simultaneous bilateral TRAM free flap breast reconstructions was developed.

Results The average operating time, including the time required for the breast ablative portion of the procedures, was 8.6 hours. The average length of hospitalization was 7.6 days. However, for the last 40 patients, these figures were reduced to 7.1 hours and 6.1 days, respectively. Nonautologous blood transfusions were needed in 33 cases (28%), but only 1 was required in the last 40 patients. Thromboses developed in six of 240 flaps (2.5%): 4 were arterial and 2 were venous. Re-exploration allowed us to restore circulation in five flaps, whereas one flap was unsalvageable and was replaced successfully with an alternate flap. An uncomplicated deep vein thromboses developed in one patient with a history of recurrent deep vein thromboses that had no adverse effect on her outcome. Minor complications developed in 18 patients (15%) (e.g., hematoma, partial wound necrosis, wound infection, or prolonged postoperative ileus) that did not affect the long-term outcome. Fourteen patients (11.6%) had abdominal wall weakness or hernias. Follow-up time averaged 37.2 months (range, 14-62 months). On last follow-up, patients' self-reported overall satisfaction with the procedure was 56% excellent, 40% good, and 4% fair.

Conclusions Simultaneous bilateral free flap reconstruction is technically feasible with a high rate of success and an acceptable morbidity. When performed by experienced surgeons, bilateral prophylactic total mastectomies combined with simultaneous bilateral TRAM free flap reconstruction may provide an adequate surgical option with aesthetically acceptable results for patients at high risk for breast cancer.

From Washington University School of Medicine, Division of Plastic Surgery,* St. Louis, Missouri; UCLA School of Medicine, Division of Plastic Surgery,† Los Angeles, California; Mount Sinai Medical Center, Department of General Surgery,‡ Miami Beach, Florida; and the Miami Hand Center,§ Baptist, Cedars and Mercy Hospitals, Miami, Florida

Address reprint requests to Roger K. Khouri, M.D., Plastic Surgery Center, 238 Crandon Boulevard, Suite #227, Key Biscayne, FL 33149.

Accepted for publication August 19, 1996.

© Lippincott-Raven Publishers.