Morbidity of the Donor Site and Complication Rates of Breast Reconstruction with Autologous Abdominal Flaps: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Breast J. 2022 Jun 24:2022:7857158. doi: 10.1155/2022/7857158. eCollection 2022.


Background: Numerous studies have evaluated the use of autologous abdominal tissue for breast reconstruction; nevertheless, complications and donor site morbidity rates vary significantly. The study aims to compare the literature regarding morbidity of the donor site and complication rates of breast reconstruction with autologous abdominal flaps.

Methods: The databases of MEDLINE, EBSCO, Scopus, Wiley Library, and Web of Sciences were searched for studies that compared different flaps in terms of complications and donor site morbidity. The procedures studied included pedicled transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous flap (pTRAM), free TRAM (fTRAM), deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP), and superficial inferior epigastric artery perforator (SIEA) flaps. A total of 34 studies were included. Of these, 28 were retrospective studies and 9 were prospective cohort studies.

Results: When compared to DIEP, fTRAM flaps were found to have a decreased incidence of flap fat necrosis, hematoma, and total thrombotic events, yet a higher risk of donor site hernia/bulging. pTRAM flaps were also associated with an increased risk of hernia/bulging at the donor site, as well as wound infection, yet flap hematoma was less common. On the other hand, SIEA flaps showed the lowest risk of donor site hernia/bulging while still having a high risk of wound infection.

Conclusion: fTRAM procedures comparatively had the least complications. However, regarding flap choice, patients would benefit most from a case-by-case analysis, taking into consideration individual risk factors and preferences.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms* / complications
  • Female
  • Hematoma / epidemiology
  • Hematoma / etiology
  • Hernia / complications
  • Humans
  • Mammaplasty* / adverse effects
  • Mammaplasty* / methods
  • Morbidity
  • Perforator Flap* / blood supply
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rectus Abdominis / blood supply
  • Rectus Abdominis / transplantation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Wound Infection* / complications