Article Abstract

Stacked and bipedicled abdominal free flaps for breast reconstruction: considerations for shaping

Authors: Patel Nakul Gamanlal, Warren Matthew Rozen, Whitney T.H. Chow, Muhammad Chowdhry, Edmund Fitzgerald O’Connor, Hrsikesa Sharma, Matthew Griffiths, Venkat V. Ramakrishnan


Background: Stacked and bipedicled abdominal flaps are useful in women who require a large breast reconstruction but have relative paucity of abdominal tissue. A new classification system is described to assist the surgeon in achieving the best possible aesthetic outcome.
Methods: A retrospective review of 25 consecutive stacked and/or bipedicled deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap reconstructions was assessed from 2009 to 2014. Demographic data and key variables were prospectively collected in our breast reconstruction database and an aesthetic classification devised. There are four main subtypes, (I) folded; (II) divided; (III) coned; and (IV) divided and folded. Each of these subtypes can be moulded in a symmetrically or asymmetrically fashion depending on the contralateral breast shape together with distribution and consistency of fat within the abdominal flap.
Results: Of the 25 patients, three-quarter were immediate reconstruction, with an average age of 48 years and a median follow-up of 2 years 10 months. Just over half the patients (57%) had bipedicle flaps with two recipient donor vessels with the remaining 43% had stacked flaps. The most common recipient sites are the thoracodorsal vessels (62%) and intercostal perforators (26%). The average abdominal pannus weight was 610 grams (SD: 320 grams), with a hemi-abdominal weight of 305 grams. Two patients had haematomas, of which one lost their reconstruction. Another patient had a venous congestion flap which was salvaged.
Conclusions: Bipedicled or stacked abdominal flaps allow the all four zones of the abdominal tissue to be used in unilateral breast reconstruction. The approach of tailoring the abdominal flaps to match the contralateral breast reconstruction is largely an art form. The paper aims to bring some meaningful system to aid the surgeon to achieve the best possible outcome with the components presented to them.