Countless studies have compared the use of autologous tissue for breast reconstruction; however, rates of donor-site morbidity differ greatly. This study examined the donor-site morbidity of superficial inferior epigastric artery (SIEA), deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) and muscle-sparing transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (MS-TRAM) flaps when used for unilateral breast reconstruction.
Searches in PubMed and Medline as well as three manual search strategies for English-language articles published from 1 January 1995 to 1 January 2011 resulted in 2154 publications. Four levels of screening identified five studies suitable for the meta-analysis. StatsDirect software was used to perform the Mantel–Haenszel fixed-effect model.
Only one study reported rates of donor-site morbidity for SIEA flaps. It was therefore impossible to perform any analysis regarding SIEA flaps. Five studies reported rates for both DIEP and MS-TRAM flaps and were used to estimate pooled relative risk (RR) and confidence intervals (CIs) of bulging. There was a 20% reduced risk of bulging when DIEP flaps were used compared to MS-TRAM flaps (RR 0.80, 95% CI 0.48–1.35). Subgroup analysis demonstrated that the risk of bulging in DIEP flap patients was one-third of MS-TRAM flap patients (RR 0.29; 95% CI 0.06–1.36), when rates were reported by clinical examinations. However, when rates were reported by surveys there was no difference in bulge formation between DIEP and MS-TRAM flap patients (RR 1.04; 95% CI 0.59–1.79). The adjusted RR of hernia in DIEP flap patients was approximately one-half of MS-TRAM flap patients (RR 0.43; 95% CI 0.07–2.63).
This analysis demonstrated a clear trend towards a favourable outcome when DIEP flaps were used compared to MS-TRAM flaps.
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Published online: July 30, 2012
Accepted: July 2, 2012
Received: January 5, 2012
© 2012 British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.