Many patients undergoing reconstructive surgery after mastectomy opt for reconstruction with the transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (TRAM) flap. Among the morbidities related to TRAM flap reconstruction is the development of abdominal wall contour abnormalities, including bulges or hernias. Several repair techniques at the flap abdominal wall donor site have been described for use at the time of flap harvest in an attempt to reduce the risk of such abdominal wall complications. For patients that develop abdominal wall contour abnormalities, numerous reconstructive options have been reported, with mixed results.
Ten patients were identified as having abdominal wall contour abnormalities after a TRAM flap and underwent an extended mesh repair with external oblique muscle reinforcement. The mesh was secured to the bony landmarks of the lower abdomen and the abdominal wall fascia.
All patients achieved complete resolution of abdominal wall bulging. In the follow-up period, no recurrences, infections, or seromas were noted. One patient, who failed an earlier repair at the inferior abdominal wall, reported symptoms consistent with a scar neuroma. Symptoms were treated successfully with gabapentin and a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
We propose a novel and reliable method of lower abdominal wall reconstruction for patients with post-TRAM flap abdominal wall contour abnormalities. This technique incorporates the use of a large Marlex mesh reinforced with bilateral external oblique muscle flaps. We report a series of 10 patients who have achieved resolution of their symptoms and have regained a natural, flat-appearing abdominal wall contour.