Which factors increase the risk for complications following a unipedicled TRAM breast reconstruction procedure?

Updated: Jun 25, 2021
  • Author: Michael R Zenn, MD, MBA, FACS; Chief Editor: James Neal Long, MD, FACS  more...
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The transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (TRAM) flap operation is major surgery and should not be undertaken lightly by the patient or surgeon. Over fifteen years of experience with these procedures enables the author to identify certain characteristics that place patients at higher risk for complications.

Because of the magnitude of the procedure and the degree of stress on the lungs and heart, this operation may unmask baseline cardiopulmonary disease and result in a complicated course for the patient. In addition, anything that causes small vessel disease, such as the medical conditions listed above, diabetes, or cigarette smoking, may cause complications in the transferred tissue and in the abdominal donor site. Any of the above characteristics contraindicate a TRAM flap, thus the surgeon should seek another method of reconstruction.

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