Vaginal reconstruction with pedicled vertical deep inferior epigastric perforator flap (diep) after pelvic exenteration. A consecutive case series

Gynecol Oncol. 2015 Sep;138(3):603-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2015.06.031. Epub 2015 Jun 27.


Vaginal reconstruction after pelvic exenteration (PE) represents a challenge for the oncologic surgeon. Since the introduction of perforator flaps, using pedicled vertical DIEP (deep inferior epigastric perforator) flap allows to reduce the donor site complication rate. From November 2012 to December 2014, 27 PEs were performed in our institution. 13 patients who underwent PE with vaginal reconstruction and programmed DIEP procedure for gynecologic malignancies were registered. Nine patients underwent PE for recurrent disease and four for primary treatment. Six of the 13 patients have a preoperative fistula. Anterior PE was performed in 10 patients, and total PE in 3 patients. A vertical DIEP flap was performed in 10 patients using one or two medial perforators. The reasons for abortion of vertical DIEP flap procedure were: failure to localizing perforator vessels in two cases, and unavailability of plastic surgeon in one case. A vertical fascia-sparring rectus abdominis myocutaneous flap was then harvested. Median length of surgery was 335min, and 60min for DIEP harvesting and vaginal reconstruction. No flap necrosis occurred. One patient in the VRAM (vertical rectus abdominis myocutaneous) group experienced a late incisional hernia and one patient in the DIEP flap group required revision for vaginal stenosis. In our experience, DIEP flap represents our preferred choice of flap for circumferential vaginal reconstruction after PE. To achieve a high reproducibility, the technically demanding pedicled vertical DIEP flap has to be harvested by a trained surgeon, after strict evaluation of the preoperative imaging with identification and localization of perforator vessels.

Keywords: DIEP; Pelvic exenteration; VRAM; Vaginal reconstruction.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pelvic Exenteration / adverse effects
  • Pelvic Exenteration / methods*
  • Perforator Flap*
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / adverse effects
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / methods*
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Vagina / surgery*
  • Young Adult