Definitive Evidence of Rectus Abdominis Preservation and Function after Bilateral DIEP Breast Reconstruction.

Division of Plastic Surgery, Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, and, Ben Taub General Hospital (Izaddoost) Division of Plastic Surgery, Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine (Ellsworth, Gordley) Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Baylor College of Medicine (Vennix) Division of Plastic Surgery, Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, and, Ben Taub General Hospital, Houston, Texas (Bullocks).
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (Impact Factor: 3.33). 04/2013; 131(4):658e-661e. DOI: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e31828278b6
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: Recent developments in autogenous breast reconstruction using the rectus abdominis myocutaneous free flap include attempts to reinnervate the flap tissue. We have carried out anatomical studies to determine the nature of abdominal-wall cutaneous innervation, with particular emphasis on the harvesting of sensate flaps. Dissections were performed on four embalmed and 12 fresh human cadavers (32 sides). The lowest five intercostal nerve trunks were identified and traced to the lateral border of the rectus sheath. A detailed dissection of the intramuscular course of the nerves and associated vasculature was performed. The relationship of the nerves to the vascular perforators used for rectus abdominis myocutaneous flaps was determined visually, and confirmed histologically. In contrast to previous studies, we show that nerves supplying cutaneous sensation can travel with both medial and lateral vascular perforators. In order to confirm clinically useful innervation, the abdominal flap skin of five patients undergoing TRAM flap reconstruction was stimulated electrically, and sensory recordings were made directly from the related intercostal nerve just prior to flap harvest. These studies represent, to our knowledge, the first clinical application of neurophysiological techniques to outline the perforator neurosomes of flaps based on the deep inferior epigastric vascular axis. We provide the first comprehensive study of abdominal-wall innervation with regard to sensate free-flap harvest. Our dissections show complex patterns of abdominal skin innervation that have not been previously described. The implications for sensate free TRAM and DIEP flap reconstructions, as well as the potential for more accurate inclusion of innervated flap skin, are discussed.
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    ABSTRACT: One presumed advantage of the free deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap over the free muscle-sparing transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (TRAM) flap is decreased donor-site morbidity. The purpose of this study was to compare the donor-site morbidity and functional outcomes in women who underwent free muscle-sparing TRAM flap or free DIEP flap breast reconstruction. All patients who underwent breast reconstruction using a free muscle-sparing TRAM flap or a free DIEP flap performed by the two senior authors at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center between 1999 and 2003 were included in the study. The authors conducted a chart review to obtain demographic data and information regarding flap-related complications and donor-site complications. Each living patient was sent a 12-item questionnaire to elicit her perceptions about donor-site outcomes. One hundred sixty-four patient charts were reviewed (203 flaps). Muscle-sparing TRAM flaps were used in 124 patients (98 unilateral and 26 bilateral). DIEP flaps were used in 35 patients (27 unilateral and eight bilateral). In five bilateral breast reconstructions, a muscle-sparing TRAM flap was used for one side and a DIEP flap was used for the other side. There was no significant difference in flap-related complications or donor-site morbidity between the free muscle-sparing TRAM and free DIEP flaps. Eighty-nine of 159 patients (56 percent) responded to the questionnaire; results showed no significant difference in patient-perceived abdominal function after free muscle-sparing TRAM flaps and free DIEP flaps. In the authors' experience, there is no significant difference in flap-related complications or donor-site morbidity between the free muscle-sparing TRAM flap and the free DIEP flap. Thus, the authors advocate using the most expeditious and reliable flap based on the vascular anatomy of the DIEP system.
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    ABSTRACT: Previous descriptions of the thoracolumbar spinal nerves innervating the anterior abdominal wall have been inconsistent. With modern surgical and anesthetic techniques that involve or may damage these nerves, an improved understanding of the precise course and variability of this anatomy has become increasingly important. The course of the nerves of the anterior abdominal is described based on a thorough cadaveric study and review of the literature. Twenty human cadaveric hemi-abdominal walls were dissected to map the course of the nerves of the anterior abdominal wall. Dissection included a comprehensive tracing of nerves and their branches from their origins in five specimens. The branching pattern and course of all nerves identified were described. All thoracolumbar nerves that innervate the anterior abdominal wall were found to travel as multiple mixed segmental nerves, which branch and communicate widely within the transversus abdominis plane (TAP). This communication may occur at multiple locations, including large branch communications anterolaterally (intercostal plexus), and in plexuses that run with the deep circumflex iliac artery (DCIA) (TAP plexus) and the deep inferior epigastric artery (DIEA) (rectus sheath plexus). Rectus abdominis muscle is innervated by segments T6-L1, with a constant branch from L1. The umbilicus is always innervated by a branch of T10. As such, identification or damage to individual nerves in the TAP or within rectus sheath is unlikely to involve single segmental nerves. An understanding of this anatomy may contribute to explaining clinical outcomes and preventing complications, following TAP blocks for anesthesia and DIEA perforator flaps for breast reconstruction.
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