Surgical outcomes of VRAM versus gracilis flaps for the reconstruction of pelvic defects following oncologic resection✰
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PURPOSE: Pelvic reconstruction following abdominoperineal resection or pelvic exenteration is associated with signification surgical site morbidity. Immediate pelvic reconstruction with a muscle flap is now the gold standard, associated with reduced perineal morbidity compared to primary closure alone.2,3 The purpose of the present study was to directly compare outcomes of VRAM and gracilis flap pelvic reconstruction following oncologic resection. METHODS: A multicenter retrospective review was performed of 88 patients who underwent abdominoperineal resection or pelvic exenteration and immediate pelvic reconstruction, either with a VRAM (N = 61) or Gracilis flap (N = 27). Electronic medical records were analyzed for patient demographics, intraoperative data, and postoperative outcomes. Mortality, minor complication rate, major complication rate and time to complete wound healing was compared between groups. RESULTS: Overall, there was no significant difference in the minor complication rate (44% gracilis vs 48% VRAM, p = 0.8), major complication rate (19% gracilis vs 13% of VRAM, p = 0.53), 30-day mortality (0% VRAM vs 0% gracilis, p = 1.0) and median time to complete wound healing (68 days vs 67 days, p = 0.19) between the gracilis and VRAM groups. Muscle-only gracilis flaps had a significantly reduced healing time compared to musculocutaneous gracilis flaps (48 days vs 85 days, p = 0.007). CONCLUSIONS: The workhorse flap in pelvic reconstruction remains the VRAM. While previous studies have alluded to the inferiority of thigh based flaps compared to the VRAM, we demonstrate here that pelvic reconstruction with the gracilis flap can be performed with comparable donor and recipient complication rates and similar time to complete wound healing as the VRAM.
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