Vulvo-vaginal reconstruction after radical excision for treatment of vulvar cancer: Evaluation of feasibility and morbidity of different surgical techniques

Surg Oncol. 2017 Dec;26(4):511-521. doi: 10.1016/j.suronc.2017.10.002. Epub 2017 Oct 5.


Background: Vulvar cancer is a rare disease accounting for approximately 5% of female genital tract tumors worldwide. Currently surgery represents the mainstay alone or sometimes, in combination with chemo-radiotherapy, for locally advanced tumors and recurrent disease. However, significant physical and sexual impairment mostly due to anatomical distortion of external genitalia are a consequence of radical surgical treatment. Postoperative reconstruction after demolitive surgeries improves aesthetic and functional results, guarantees an adequate coverage of large tumors and assures safe surgical margin. The present study aimed to analyze feasibility and complication rates of fascio-cutaneous flap after excision for vulvovaginal malignancies.

Methods: PubMed (MEDLINE), Web of Science, and CINAHL were searched for records of validated vulvovaginal reconstructive techniques after demolitive surgery for vulvar cancer. All cohorts were rated for quality using a scoring method taking into account the design of the study, the sample size and quality of report of surgical data and complications.

Results: A total of 24 studies met all eligibility criteria for this systematic review. All the studies were realized between 1996 and 2015. The overall sample size was 443 patients. Two major group of flap according to type of movement were identified: Advancement Flap (V-Y Gluteal Fold Flap; Medial Thigh Flap) and Transpositional Flap (Lotus Petal Flap; Gluteal Thigh Flap; Gluteal Fold Flap and Anterolateral Thigh Flap). The overall complications rates reported for advancement (26.7% among 165 patients on 11 series) and transposition flaps (22.3% among 278 patients on 13 series) were comparable.

Conclusions: A tailored procedure, based on patients' characteristics, size and location of the defect is still the goal of a successful reconstructive surgery. Proper planning of the surgical procedures, knowledge of the different surgical options and technical skills are required in order to obtain reliable and satisfying results.

Keywords: Fascio-cutaneous flaps; Plastic surgery; Vulvar cancer; Vulvar flap; Vulvar reconstruction.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Morbidity
  • Prognosis
  • Reconstructive Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Surgical Flaps*
  • Vaginal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Vulvar Neoplasms / surgery*