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Donor-Site Morbidity After Pedicled TRAM Breast Reconstruction: A Comparison of Two Different Types of Mesh

Sværdborg, Mille MD; Damsgaard, Tine Engberg MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/SAP.0b013e318255a293
Breast Surgery

Many different approaches have been used to minimize the risk of bulge or hernia formation when using autologous abdominal tissue for breast reconstruction. Studies have shown that further reinforcement of the abdominal wall using a mesh may decrease the complication rate.

The current study included 40 consecutive patients having unilateral breast reconstruction with the pedicled transverse rectus abdominus musculocutaneous flap. The defect in the abdominal fascia was closed primarily and further reinforced using a Prolene mesh (Ethicon), n = 20, or using a self-fixating Parietex ProGrip mesh (Covidien), n = 20. The patients were examined at an outpatient consultation, with a minimum follow-up of 1 year and questioned about donor-site symptoms using a standardized questionnaire.

Of the 20 patients in the Prolene group, 2 (10%) developed abdominal wall bulging, and of the 20 patients in the ProGrip group, 11 (55%) developed abdominal wall bulging (P = 0.006). In both the Prolene and the ProGrip group, most patients reported having continued donor-site symptoms at the time of the follow-up (70% and 80%, respectively); 15% and 30%, respectively, reported having symptoms that influenced their daily or physical activities (not a significant difference). All but 1 patient in our study reported being very happy with the reconstruction and would have done it again, had they known what they did at the time of the follow-up.

We conclude that the self-gripping properties of the Parietex ProGrip mesh are not sufficient in withstanding the abdominal wall tension at the donor site after transverse rectus abdominus musculocutaneous-flap harvest and do not recommend using the Parietex ProGrip mesh without fixating sutures for this procedure.

From the Department of Plastic Surgery, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus C, Denmark.

Received January 11, 2012, and accepted for publication, after revision, March 14, 2012.

Conflicts of interest and sources of funding: none declared.

Reprints: Mille Sværdborg, MD, Department of Plastic Surgery, Aarhus University Hospital, Nørrebrogade 44, Bldg 9, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark. E-mail:

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins