INTRODUCTION: The transverse rectus abdominis muscle (TRAM) flap, described by Drever in 1977, was subsequently modified and since then, has rapidly become an important alternative for breast reconstructions. However, bulges and abdominal hernias in the donor area are some of the complications arising from the TRAM flap. This study proposes an alternative technique for the repair of the abdominal defect that minimizes complications and provides better results.
METHOD: The retrospective included 120 women who underwent breast reconstruction with TRAM with placement of an abdominal mesh between May 2003 and November 2012, with follow-up of at least six months. Patients were divided into two groups: Group 1 (53 cases) underwent reconstruction with polypropylene mesh positioned between the aponeurotic layers of the external and internal oblique muscles and Group 2 (67 cases) underwent closure of the arcuate Douglas' line and the remaining lower aponeurosis of the rectus abdominis muscle and reinforcement with mesh.
RESULTS: The patients were evaluated by the same surgeon, according to the same criteria. The rate of bulging was 18.9% in group 1 and 3% in group 2, a statistically significant difference. Bulges and hernias in the hypogastrium varied from 20% to 44% and 12.5% to 20% respectively, when closed primarily. When synthetic mesh was used, these percentages decreased to 1.5% to 6%. The technical improvement and comparison of results aims to minimize such complications.
CONCLUSION: The technique described is advantageous in that, it significantly reduced the occurrence of the most common complication, and increased the aesthetic and functional satisfaction of the patients.
Keywords: Breast reconstruction; Transverse rectus abdominis muscle Flap; Reconstruction of the abdominal wall; Bulging.