TRAM flap breast reconstruction for patients with advanced breast disease

Amir B. Behnam, Doan Nguyen, Steven L. Moran, Joseph M. Serletti, Robert X. Murphy, James W. May, Peter Cordeiro, Kenneth Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Transverse rectus abdominis musculocutaneous (TRAM) breast reconstruction in patients with advanced breast cancer is controversial. Management of these patients is often complex and consists of surgical extirpation, postoperative radiation, chemotherapy, and in some cases bone marrow transplantation. Few studies have attempted to examine patient long-term survival and overall satisfaction with the surgical procedure. This study examines one center's experience with patients undergoing breast reconstruction for stage III and stage IV breast carcinoma. A retrospective review was performed of all patients undergoing TRAM reconstruction with stage III or IV breast cancer. Surviving patients and family members were contacted for follow-up. Patients were asked to grade their satisfaction with the reconstructive procedure on a 5-point scale (5 points, extremely satisfied; 1 point, extremely dissatisfied). Postoperative complications and time to return to work were also recorded. During a 10-year period (1991-2000) 21 women underwent TRAM reconstruction for advanced breast cancer. Twenty patients had stage III disease and I patient had stage IV disease. Mean patient age was 49 years, A total of 26 TRAM flaps were performed; 5 patients had bilateral procedures. Of the 26 TRAM flaps, 17 were immediate and 9 were delayed, and 20 were free and 6 were pedicled. Follow-up averaged 6.5 years (range, 2-10 years). Postoperative complications occurred in 7 patients and included fat necrosis (N = 3), hematoma (N = 2), cellulitis (N = 1), delayed donor site healing (N = 2), and seroma (N = 1). There were no flap losses. Patients were able to return to normal activities or work at an average of 10.6 weeks. Eleven patients developed recurrent disease. Nine patients (43%) succumbed to their disease during the follow-up period. In these patients the average interval between TRAM reconstruction and death was 3.7 years (range, 1-6.5 years). Eleven patients or surviving family members participated in the patient satisfaction survey. The average satisfaction grade was 4.6 points. All patients would repeat the TRAM reconstruction again. Patients with advanced breast cancer can be considered appropriate candidates for TRAM reconstruction. The results of this study indicate that patients with advanced breast cancer do not have an increased rate of postoperative complications, and they recover within a reasonable time from their surgical procedure despite adjuvant radiation and chemotherapy. Furthermore, the majority of patients are satisfied with their reconstructed breast and postoperative course, and would choose this reconstructive option again.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)567-571
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of plastic surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


Dive into the research topics of 'TRAM flap breast reconstruction for patients with advanced breast disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this