Cadaveric evaluation of sternal reconstruction using the pectoralis muscle flap

ANZ J Surg. 2019 Jul;89(7-8):945-949. doi: 10.1111/ans.15268. Epub 2019 Jun 2.


Background: Deep sternal wound infection is a significant complication of open cardiac surgery associated with increased mortality and morbidity. The use of muscle flaps, such as the pectoralis major advancement flap, in deep sternal wound infection reconstruction reduces hospital stay and mortality. However, the lower end of the sternum is remote from the vascular supply and cover is therefore problematic in many cases.

Methods: This study aimed to determine the distance (cm) and surface area (cm2 ) of sternum covered when the pectoralis major muscle is sequentially dissected from the sternocostal origin and humeral insertion using 10 cadaveric specimens.

Results: The largest proportion of sternum was covered when both the origin and insertion were divided, allowing the flap to be islanded on its vascular pedicle. There was a statistically significant difference when the pectoralis major was divided from the origin and insertion compared to division of the origin alone (P < 0.01). The average area covered with sternocostal origin division alone was 55.43 cm2 compared to 85.36 cm2 after division of both the origin and insertion.

Conclusion: Division of both the sternocostal origin and humeral insertion of the pectoralis major muscle represents an effective means to increase sternal coverage. This study describes the average distance and area covered by sliding pectoralis major muscle advancement flaps. These measurements could better inform plastic surgeons when evaluating reconstructive options in sternal defects.

Keywords: anatomical study; chest wall reconstruction; deep sternal wound infection; mediastinitis; pectoralis major muscle advancement flap; sternal dehiscence; thoracic reconstruction.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Cadaver
  • Humans
  • Pectoralis Muscles / transplantation*
  • Reconstructive Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Sternum / surgery*
  • Surgical Flaps*