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The Effects of Radiation Treatment after TRAM Flap Breast Reconstruction

Williams, Kerwin J. M.D.; Carlson, Grant W. M.D.; Bostwick, John III M.D.; Bried, Jean Trimble P.A., M.P.H.; Mackay, Greg M.D.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: October 1997 - Volume 100 - Issue 5 - p 1153–1160
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A subgroup of mastectomy patients receives adjuvant radiation therapy after autogenous breast reconstruction for locoregional control of cancer. The effects of radiation therapy on pedlicled transverse rectus abdominis musculocutaneous (TRAM) flaps were determined to evaluate complication rates and aesthetic results.

Nineteen patients from 1981 to 1994 receiving radiation therapy after a pedicled TRAM flap reconstruction were compared with 108 patients who received radiation prior to reconstruction and 572 patients who underwent breast reconstruction without radiation. Retrospective reviews of patient charts were completed.

Adjuvant radiation therapy was given for chest-wall recurrence in 13 of 19 patients. With a mean follow-up of 47.6 months from the time of reconstruction, 10 patients (52.6 percent) demonstrated postradiation changes in the TRAM flap reconstruction, and 6 required surgical intervention (31.6 percent). Overall complication rates were increased but were not found to be statistically significant between the radiated TRAM flap group and patients with preoperative radiation followed by TRAM flap reconstruction (31 versus 25 percent). Fibrosis was not found in patients with pre-TRAM flap radiation or in patients without radiation but was seen in 31.6 percent of patients who received radiation after the reconstruction. Fat necrosis was not significantly increased between the two groups of radiated patients.

The complication rate does not change whether a patient receives radiation before or after her reconstruction; only the nature of the complication changes (fat necrosis to fibrosis). (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 100: 1153, 1997.)

Atlanta, Ga., and Charlotte, N.C.

From the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the Department of Surgery (Winship Oncology Clinic) at Emory University. Received for publication July 31, 1996; revised November 26, 1996.

Presented at the 75th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons, in Hilton Head, South Carolina, in May of 1996.

Grant W. Carlson, M.D.

1372 Clifton Road, N.E.

Atlanta, Ga. 30322

©1997American Society of Plastic Surgeons