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Comparison of gracilis and rectus abdominis myocutaneous flap neovaginal reconstruction performed during radical pelvic surgery: flap-specific morbidity
  1. J. T. Soper*,
  2. A. A. Secord,
  3. L. J. Havrilesky,
  4. A. Berchuck and
  5. D. L. Clarke-Pearson*
  1. * Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  2. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to: John T. Soper, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, 5017 Old Clinic Building CB #7570, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7570, USA. Email: john_soper{at}


To compare flap-specific complications of gracilis myocutaneous (GM) and rectus abdominis myocutaneous (RAM) flap neovaginal reconstructions after radical pelvic surgery. The study was a single-institution retrospective review of patients undergoing concurrent radical pelvic surgery with GM or RAM neovaginal reconstructions performed on a gynecological oncology service, 1978–2003. Flap-specific complications were compared between the techniques. Forty-four GM and 32 RAM neovaginal reconstructions were analyzed: plastic surgeons developed 12 (27%) GM and 4 (13%) RAM flaps, with all other flaps performed by gynecological oncologists. Primary procedures included 54 (71%) total pelvic exenterations, with partial exenterations or radical vulvovaginectomies in 16 (21%) and 6 (8%) patients, respectively. Forty (53%) patients had received radiation and 28 (36%) received chemoradiation before radical surgery. There were no significant differences in patient characteristics, other than more frequent use of continent urinary conduits (P < 0.001) and a trend for more frequent sidewall radiation (P < 0.1) in the RAM group, reflecting use in more recent patients (P < 0.001). Median follow-up is 28 months (range: 2 weeks to 216 months), with 5% acute operative mortality. Flap-specific complications were significantly increased in GM patients (P < 0.03). Overall flap loss was significantly increased in GM patients (P < 0.02). Thirty (59%) of 51 patients surviving for more than 12 months reported coitus, with no significant difference between the groups. Because of lower overall incidence of flap-specific complications and significantly lower incidence of flap loss compared with GM flap, RAM flap has become our technique of choice for neovaginal reconstruction concurrent with radical pelvic surgery.

  • gracilis flap
  • neovaginal reconstruction
  • pelvic surgery
  • rectus flap

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