Background: The reconstruction of large defects after abdominoperineal resections and pelvic exenterations has traditionally been accomplished with vertical rectus myocutaneous flaps (VRAMs). For patients requiring two ostomies, robot-assisted abdominoperineal resections (APRs), and to avoid the morbidity of a VRAM harvest, the authors have used the gracilis muscle flap to reconstruct the large dead space in these patients.
Methods: A retrospective analysis of 16 consecutive APRs (10 with concomitant pelvic exenterations) reconstructed with gracilis flaps during a 2-year period was performed. Gracilis muscle flaps were used to obliterate the dead space after primary skin closure was ensured with adduction of the legs.
Results: All 16 patients had locally advanced cancers and had received neoadjuvant chemotherapy and radiation. Of these 16 patients, 10 had pelvic exenterations. All the patients had reconstruction with gracilis flaps (6 bilateral flaps). One major wound complication in the perineum occurred as a result of an anastomotic leak in the pelvis, but this was managed with conservative dressing changes. Three patients had skin separation in the perineum greater than 5 mm with intact subcutaneous closure. No patients required operative debridement or revision of their perineal reconstruction. No perineal hernias or gross dehiscence of the skin closure occurred.
Conclusions: Large pelvic and perineal reconstructions can be safely accomplished with gracilis muscle flaps and should be considered as an alternative to abdominal-based flaps.
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