ABSTRACT: The vertical rectus abdominis muscle (VRAM) flap is considered a safe and simple option to cover defects of the trunk and proximal thigh. Detailed long-time follow-up studies in oncologic patients including complications and donor site morbidity are rare. In this study, complications and donor site morbidity were analysed.
Data of 78 consecutive patients with oncologic disease, having received VRAM flaps, were analysed retrospectively. Patients with soft tissue sarcomas (n = 38), radiation ulcers (n = 18), carcinoma (n = 10), wound-healing difficulties after tumour resection (n = 8), breast reconstruction after ablation (n = 3) and malignant melanoma (n = 1) were included. Statistics concerning patients' satisfaction, the occurrence of wound-healing difficulties, incisional herniation, loss of abdominal wall strength in correlation to operative and (neo)adjuvant treatment and patients' history were performed. The mean follow-up time was 5.5 years.
No complete flap loss was observed. A body mass index over 30 was positively correlated with wound-healing difficulties; radiation had no negative effect. A contralateral cutaneous pedicle could reduce the risk of lymphoedema in groin defect patients. Incisional hernia was present in 13%. Strength endurance of the abdominal wall was reduced compared to an age-matched control. Most patients were satisfied with the postoperative result.
VRAM flaps are reliable tools for defect coverage in the oncologic patient to prevent chronic ulceration, lymphangitis or more severe complications like septic rupture of femoral vessels and hip disarticulation. Donor site morbidity is tolerable, and patients' satisfaction is high.
Langenbeck s Archives of Surgery 07/2011; 396(8):1271-9. · 1.81 Impact Factor