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Characterizing Outcomes of Medial and Lateral Perforators in Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator Flaps
Background Perforators are typically found in rows in the deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap. As methods to assess flap perfusion continue to improve, surgeons may be more likely to select perforators traditionally avoided. The purpose of this article is to describe clinical outcomes based on row and number of perforators to reevaluate flap and abdominal donor site morbidity.
Methods A retrospective analysis was performed on patients who underwent breast reconstruction with DIEP flaps by four microsurgeons from 2013 to 2020. The row and number of perforators were determined from operative reports. Chi-square and t-test or nonparametric Fisher's exact test and Wilcoxon two-sample test were used for discrete and continuous variable, respectively, as applicable. Logistic regression was used for multivariable analyses.
Results Of 628 flaps, 305 were medial row (58.7%), 159 were lateral row (30.6%), and 55 had both rows (10.6%). Partial flap loss was higher in both rows (p = 0.003). Fat necrosis was higher with medial (p = 0.03) and both rows (p = 0.01) when compared with lateral using multivariable analysis. Hernia or bulge was higher in lateral row flaps (lateral: 8/157, 5.1%; medial, 5/299, 1.7%; both, 0/55; p = 0.05); however, mesh was more commonly used in both row flaps (p = 0.05). There was no difference in fat necrosis or abdominal morbidity between single and multiple perforators.
Conclusion There was no difference in fat necrosis based on the number or row of perforators. The lateral row provides adequate perfusion but may be associated with an elevated risk of hernia or bulge. Patients may benefit from mesh, especially when both rows are dissected.
Received: 31 October 2021
Accepted: 30 January 2022
Article published online:
27 April 2022
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