Reconstruction of Oncologic Sternectomy Defects: Lessons Learned from 60 Cases at a Single Institution

Joseph Banuelos, Amjed Abu-Ghname, Uldis Bite, Steven L. Moran, Karim Bakri, Shanda H. Blackmon, Robert Shen, Mark S. Allen, Peter C. Pairolero, Philip G. Arnold, Basel Sharaf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Oncologic sternectomy results in complex defects where preoperative planning is paramount to achieve best reconstructive outcomes. Although pectoralis major muscle flap (PMF) is the workhorse for sternal soft tissue coverage, additional flaps can be required. Our purpose is to evaluate defects in which other flaps beside PMF were required to achieve optimal reconstruction. Methods: A retrospective review of consecutive patients at our institution who underwent reconstruction after sternal tumor resection was performed. Demographics, surgical characteristics, and outcomes were evaluated. Further analysis was performed to identify defect characteristics where additional flaps to PMF were needed to complete reconstruction. Results: In 11 years, 60 consecutive patients were identified. Mean age was 58 (28-81) years old, with a mean follow-up of 40.6 (12-64) months. The majority were primary sternal tumors (67%) and the mean defect size was 148 cm2 (±81). Fourteen (23%) patients presented with postoperative complications, and the 30-day mortality rate was 1.6%. In 19 (32%) cases, additional flaps were required; the most common being the rectus abdominis muscle flaps. Larger thoracic defects (P = 0.011) and resections involving the inferior sternum (P = 0.021) or the skin (P = 0.011) were more likely to require additional flaps. Conclusions: Reconstruction of oncologic sternal defects requires a multidisciplinary team approach. Larger thoracic defects, particularly those that involve the skin and the inferior sternum, are more likely to require additional flaps for optimal reconstruction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2351
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery - Global Open
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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