Technical Description and Microsurgical Outcomes in Phalloplasty Using the Deep Inferior Epigastric Artery and Locoregional Veins

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2020 Aug;146(2):196e-204e. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000007036.


Background: Phalloplasty often requires free tissue transfer. There is ample literature describing flap-related outcomes, but the microsurgical technique used, including choice of recipient vessels, has been an overlooked yet important topic. In this study, the authors review the outcomes of their experience with the deep inferior epigastric artery and locoregional veins and outline technical modifications that occurred during the study period.

Methods: A retrospective chart analysis of patients who underwent microsurgical phalloplasty between September of 2016 and July of 2019 was performed. Variables included flap design, donor site, and recipient vessels. The outcome measures were return to the operating room for flap compromise and partial or complete flap loss.

Results: Forty-two phalloplasties using the deep inferior epigastric artery were identified. There were six take-backs for flap compromise, and four patients required venous revision, one of whom lost his urethral flap on postoperative day 9. There was a decrease in take-back rate from 30 percent in the first 20 patients to 0 percent in the second 22 patients in the study period. A total of 11.9 percent of patients had partial flap loss. This decreased from 15 percent to 9 percent in the two groups.

Conclusion: After an initial learning curve, the combination of deep inferior epigastric artery, deep inferior epigastric vein, and great saphenous vein combined with specific technical modifications such as targeted coagulation of the vasa nervorum of the clitoral nerve has proven to be a reliable technique.

Clinical question/level of evidence: Therapeutic, IV.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Epigastric Arteries / transplantation
  • Female
  • Gender Dysphoria / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microsurgery / methods*
  • Penis / blood supply
  • Penis / surgery*
  • Perforator Flap / blood supply
  • Perforator Flap / transplantation*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Reassignment Surgery / methods*
  • Transgender Persons
  • Veins / transplantation