Surgical Delay of Thoracodorsal Artery Perforator Flaps for Total Autologous Breast Reconstruction

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Annals of Plastic Surgery


Background When abdomen-based free flap reconstruction is contraindicated, the muscle-sparing thoracodorsal artery perforator (TDAP) flap may be considered for total autologous breast reconstruction. The TDAP flap is often limited by volume and is prone to distal flap necrosis. We aim to demonstrate our experience combining the delay phenomenon with TDAP flaps for total autologous breast reconstruction. Methods Patients presenting for autologous breast reconstruction between April 2021 and August 2023 were recruited for surgically delayed TDAP flap reconstruction when abdominally based free flap reconstruction was contraindicated because of previous abdominal surgery or poor perforator anatomy. We dissected the TDAP flap except for a distal skin bridge and then reconstructed the breast 1 to 7 days later. Data included flap dimensions (in centimeters × centimeters), delay time (in days), predelay and postdelay perforator caliber (in millimeters) and flow (in centimeters per second), operative time (in minutes), hospital length of stay (in days), complications/revisions, and follow-up time (in days). Results Fourteen patients and 16 flaps were included in this study. Mean age and body mass index of patients were 55.9 ± 9.6 years and 30.1 ± 4.3 kg/m2, respectively. Average flap skin island length and width were 32.1 ± 3.3 cm (n = 8 flaps) and 8.8 ± 0.7 cm (n = 5 flaps), respectively. Beveled flap width reached 16.0 ± 2.2 cm (n = 3 flaps). Average time between surgical delay and reconstruction was 2.9 days, ranging from 1 to 7 days (n = 18 flaps). Mean predelay and postdelay TDAP vessel caliber and flow measured by Doppler ultrasound increased from 1.4 ± 0.3 to 1.8 ± 0.3 mm (P = 0.03) and 13.3 ± 5.2 to 43.4 ± 18.8 cm/s (P = 0.03), respectively (n = 4 flaps). Complications included 1 donor site seroma and 1 mastectomy skin flap necrosis. Follow-up ranged from 4 to 476 days (n = 17 operations). Conclusions We demonstrate surgically delayed TDAP flaps as a viable option for total autologous breast reconstruction. Our series of flaps demonstrated increased perforator caliber and flow and enlarged volume capabilities and had no incidences of flap necrosis.

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