A national snapshot of patient reported outcomes comparing types of abdominal flaps for breast reconstruction

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Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery


BACKGROUND: This study aimed to identify differences in patient-reported abdominal well-being, satisfaction, and quality of life in women with muscle-preserving free abdominal versus pedicle transverse rectus abdominis musculocutaneous (TRAM) flap for breast reconstruction.

METHODS: Women with a history of breast cancer surgery were recruited from the Army of Women foundation to take the BREAST-Q and a background questionnaire. Descriptive statistics and regression analyses were used to compare abdominal physical well-being, breast satisfaction, chest physical, psychosocial well-being, and sexual well-being in women undergoing free versus pedicle TRAM flaps.

RESULTS: Of 657 women, 273 (41 percent) underwent free flap surgery and 384 (58 percent) underwent pedicle TRAM flap surgery. Compared with unilateral pedicle TRAM flaps, those with unilateral free flaps scored an average of 9.5 points higher (95 percent CI, 5.4 to 13.6; p < 0.0001) and those with bilateral free flaps reported no difference in physical well-being of the abdomen. Compared with bilateral pedicle TRAM flaps, the following groups scored higher in physical well-being of the abdomen: unilateral free flaps, an average of 17.4 (95 percent CI, 11.5 to 23.3; p < 0.0001); bilateral free flaps, an average of 6.8 (95 percent CI, 0.3 to 13.3; p = 0.04); and unilateral pedicle TRAM flaps, an average of 7.9 (95 percent CI, 2.4 to 13.4; p = 0.005) higher. Women with bilateral pedicle flaps reported sexual well-being scores 7.4 (95 percent CI, 0.6 to 14.3; p = 0.03) and 6.8 (95 percent CI, 0.3 to 13.2; p = 0.04) points lower than those with unilateral free and unilateral pedicle flaps.

CONCLUSIONS: Muscle-preserving techniques result in improved abdominal wall function and decreased morbidity compared with pedicle TRAM flap reconstruction. These data highlight the importance of offering patients the option of microsurgical techniques.

Medical Subject Headings

Abdominal Wall; Aged; Breast Neoplasms; Cohort Studies; Female; Free Tissue Flaps; Humans; Mammaplasty; Mastectomy; Microsurgery; Middle Aged; Myocutaneous Flap; Organ Sparing Treatments; Patient Reported Outcome Measures; Patient Selection; Quality of Life; Rectus Abdominis; Transplant Donor Site; Transplantation, Autologous

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