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Journal of Wound Management and Research > Volume 13(2); 2017 > Article
Kim, Cho, and Oh: Reconstruction of a Large Chest Wall Defect with Free Bilateral Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator Flap

Abstract

Patients with recurrent breast sarcoma on chest wall often receive radical surgical resection that result in large skin & soft tissue defects. These changes demand flap coverage for chest wall stability and durable soft tissue coverage. We introduce a case with recurrent breast sarcoma on chest wall which resulted in huge chest wall defect that was successfully covered with free bilateral deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap coverage. A debulking operation was planned for recurrent tumor mass found on the chest wall of a 47-year-old female who received simple mastectomy for left breast sarcoma. A cardiothoracic surgeon conducted en bloc chest wall resection with 2nd to 5th rib resection. The size of the defect was measured as 25 cm×22 cm and free bilateral DIEP flap was conducted for the coverage. Robust flap was seen at two month follow-up and no donor site complication occurred. Bilateral DIEP flap provides enhanced vascular perfusion, allowing for harvest of larger volumes of tissue. When the chest wall defect requires huge volume to cover, bilateral DIEP flap would be a valuable option as it provides substantial volume of durable tissue offering optimal aesthetic outcome and minimal donor site morbidity.

Introduction

For primary breast sarcoma, wide surgical resection is a primary modality and following adjuvant radiotherapy is also known to have survival advantages. Given an adequate surgery, which requires radical resection, 5-year disease-free survival rates of breast sarcoma range from 44% to 74% [1]. Radical resection often results in considerable skin and soft tissue defect on chest wall which demands local or free flap coverage for chest wall stability and durable soft tissue coverage. Here, we introduce a case of reconstruction of chest wall defect with free DIEP flap coverage.

CASE

A 47-year-old female received simple mastectomy for left breast sarcoma and wound coverage with pedicled latissimus dorsi musculocutaneous flap and split thickness skin graft 5 months ago. The patient received post-operative radiation and chemotherapy but recurrent tumor mass was found on chest wall at one month follow up chest CT, which made debulking operation necessary to reduce the tumor burden (Fig. 1A).
On preoperative evaluation, complete excision of a large size defect on anterior chest wall was expected: tumors, infected and irradiated soft tissues, the underlying ribs, and sternum. Considering the substantial volume of skin and soft tissue required, and previous utility of latissimus dorsi muscle, the DIEP flap was planned for the coverage.
Preoperative computed tomography was taken to confirm the reliable blood flow of the inferior epigastric perforator vessels and identification of perforator vessels. Preoperative markings were drawn including DIEP flap of 40 cm×13 cm size and location of main perforator vessels (Fig. 1B & C). The cardiothoracic surgeon conducted en bloc chest wall resection with 2nd to 5th rib resection, upper half sternotomy and bony reconstruction with Gore-tex membrane (Fig. 2). The size of the defect was measured 25 cm×22 cm. The Internal mammary vessels and thoracoacromial vessels were exposed with intact patency and chosen for microsurgical anastomosis as recipient vessels but the thoracodorsal vessel was found compromised due to adjuvant radiation therapy. Left deep inferior epigastric artery and vein (×2) were anastomosed with left thoracoacromial artery and vein while right deep inferior epigastric artery and vein were anastomosed with internal mammary artery and vein (Fig. 3A). The defect was completely filled with the free DIEP flap as bilateral pedicle vessels comprised the whole flap with Zone I and II regions minimizing possible partial flap failure (Fig. 3B). The patient received two days of ventilator support in the intensive care unit and total hospital stay of 13 days. The pathology result revealed remnant cancer cell on the basal margin of the excised mass and owing to the durable reconstructed flap, postoperative radiation could initiate at one month post-operative period without delay. Robust flap was seen at two month after reconstruction; there was no marginal necrosis or fat necrosis and no donor site complication occurred (Fig. 3C).

Discussion

Chest wall involving breast sarcoma often requires radical resection that results in huge defect. To cover the defect and provide durable tissue, a solid flap is mandatory for the coverage. Most commonly used flaps to cover the anterior chest wall are the pectoralis major muscle flap, latissimus dorsi flap and rectus abdominis flap [2]. However, former two flaps are often inadequate for huge defects and have limited skin paddle. The rectus abdominis can be transposed on the superior epigastric pedicle or as a free flap. Free deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap provides large volume of soft tissue with robust blood supply with limited donor-site morbidity. Yet, unilateral DIEP flap has the limitation in utilizing maximal volume of the flap; Zone IV of the flap is typically discarded due to lack of reliable perfusion. Bilateral DIEP flap provides enhanced vascular perfusion of the lower abdominal flap territory, allowing for harvest of larger volumes of tissue [3]. Enriched perfusion offers better flap survival, faster wound healing, minimal fat necrosis and marginal necrosis; thus resulting in better aesthetic outcome maintaining the initial flap design without disfig.ment. The chest wall has plenty of donor vessels that can be used for bilateral anastomoses, including thoracodorsal vessel, thoracoacromial vessel and internal mammary vessel. There have been reports of DIEP flap usage in chest wall reconstruction, but all of them were unilateral and didn’t cover the defect as huge as of the above case. (550 cm2) [4,5]. However, bilateral DIEP flap requires meticulous dissection of pedicle vessels and multiple microsurgical anastomoses. For the surgeons with extensive microsurgical experience, and when the defect requires huge volume to cover, bilateral DIEP flap would be a valuable option for anterior chest wall reconstruction as it provides substantial volume of durable tissue with minimal donor site morbidity and excellent aesthetic outcome.

Conclusion

We present the first case of free bilateral DIEP flap for the reconstruction of chest wall. When the defect is huge and donor vessels are not injured, bilateral DIEP flap would be a valuable option as it provides substantial volume of durable tissue with minimal donor site morbidity and optimal aesthetic outcome.

Conflict of Interest

No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.

Fig. 1.
(A) Follow up chest CT shows extensive recurrent sarcoma mass involving left chest wall. (B) Preoperative markings were drawn including DIEP flap of approximately 40 cm×13 cm size and location of main perforator vessels of bilateral deep inferior epigastric artery.
jwmr-2017-00150f1.gif
Fig. 2.
(A) Surgical resection of the left anterior chest wall with 2nd to 5th rib resection and upper half sternotomy resulted in a 25 cm ×22 cm skin & soft tissue defect (lateral side view). (B) Covered with Gore-tex membrane for bony reconstruction.
jwmr-2017-00150f2.gif
Fig. 3.
(A) Harvested bilateral DIEP flap (40 cm×13 cm) applied on the defect by right DIEP vessel anastomosed with IMA & V (white arrow) and left DIEP vessel anastomosed with throacoacromial A & V (×2) (yellow arrow). The whole flap showed adequate perfusion and inset without discarding distal parts except for minor contour refinement. (B) Immediate postoperative photo. (C) Two month postoperative clinical photo. DIEP, Deep inferior epigastric perforator; IMA & V, Internal mammary artery and vein.
jwmr-2017-00150f3.gif

References

1. Pencavel TD, Hayes A. Breast sarcoma--a review of diagnosis and management. Int J Surg 2008; Dec 11; [Epub]. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijsu.2008.12.005.
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2. Chang RR, Mehrara BJ, Hu QY, Disa JJ, Cordeiro PG. Reconstruction of complex oncologic chest wall defects. a 10-year experience. Ann Plast Surg 2004; 52:471–9.
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3. Beahm EK, Walton RL. The efficacy of bilateral lower abdominal free flaps for unilateral breast reconstruction. Plast Reconstr Surg 2007; 120:41–54.
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4. Sullivan SR, Truxillo TM, Mann GN, Isik FF. A reconstructive algorithm for plastic surgery following extensive chest wall resection. Breast J 2007; 13:50–4.
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5. Choisy-Klifa M, Binder JP, Revol M, Servant JM. Chest wall reconstruction for recurrent breast cancer. Ann Chir Plast Esthet 2008; 53:239–45.
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