Although the transverse rectus abdominis musculocutaneous (TRAM) flap is the gold standard in autogenous breast reconstruction, it is less reliable in patients at high risk of ischaemic compromise. A preliminary delay procedure involving ligation of the deep inferior epigastric vessels has been shown to augment flap vascularity and improve outcome in those high risk patients undergoing unipedicled TRAM flap reconstruction. Despite previous description of a transperitoneal laparoscopic technique, surgical delay generally continues to be performed as an open procedure. This may reflect apprehension over the transperitoneal approach with its attendant risk of injury to intra-abdominal organs and vessels as well as adhesion formation. In this paper we describe an extraperitoneal laparoscopic technique for TRAM flap delay. Access to the deep inferior epigastric vessels is obtained using an extraperitoneal approach similar to that used for total extraperitoneal laparoscopic inguinal hernia repair and the vessels are easily identified and ligated using a single working port. While further study is required to evaluate the safety and efficacy of this technique, we report this as an alternative to the known open procedure which may be particularly useful for bilateral TRAM flap delay with the potential for reduced operative time, postoperative pain and scarring by avoiding bilateral inguinal incisions.
- Surgical flap