Gore-Tex patch repair of the anterior rectus sheath in free rectus abominis muscle and myocutaneous flap elevation

D. G. Pennington, T. Lam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reconstruction of the breast and other tissues by the free transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (TRAM) flap is an accepted, reliable technique with a high success rate. Closure of the anterior rectus sheath defect that results from this flap and the related rectus abdominis muscle-only (RAM) free flap has been the subject of debate, since hernia formation is considered a risk. Some authors prefer direct closure, while others recommend a variety of synthetic mesh reinforcements. We have reviewed 81 patients from a consecutive series of free TRAM and RAM flaps performed by one surgeon (Pennington) over an 8-year period. The majority of patients had repair of the anterior rectus sheath with a 1-mm-thick synthetic patch of polytetrafluoroethylene (Gore-Tex), used in 52 of 71 patients having the TRAM flap and 4 of 10 patients having the RAM flap. There were 5 wound infections (6.2 percent) overall, 3 of which occurred in the Gore-Tex group (5.4 percent). In all 3 of the latter patients, Gore-Tex was removed, although usually only after some months. Even after patch removal, no hernias developed subsequently. The two other infections occurred in patients with a Prolene mesh patch and no patch, respectively. One hernia was found in 71 patients with TRAM flaps, and that was in a patient in whom no patch was used. No hernias occurred in 52 TRAM flap patients with Gore-Tex patches. Hernia formation was noted in 6 of 10 RAM flap patients, although only 1 hernia occurred in the 4 patients with Gore-Tex patches. We conclude that the 1-mm polytetrafluoroethylene (Gore-Tex) patch is a satisfactory method for repair of the anterior rectus sheath after harvesting of either free RAM or TRAM flaps. Even if removal of the patch is required because of infection, the risk of subsequent hernia formation appears minimal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1436-1440
Number of pages5
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes

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