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Trends and Complications of Vulvar Reconstruction After Vulvectomy: A Study of a Nationwide Cohort
  1. Alexandra L. Martin, MD*,
  2. J. Ryan Stewart, DO*,
  3. Harshitha Girithara-Gopalan, MS,
  4. Jeremy T. Gaskins, PhD,
  5. Nicole J. McConnell, MD* and
  6. Erin E. Medlin, MD*
  1. *Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health, University of Louisville School of Medicine; and
  2. Department of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics, University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences, Louisville, KY.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Alexandra L. Martin, MD, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health, University of Louisville School of Medicine, 550 South Jackson St, Ambulatory Care Bldg, Louisville, KY 40202. E-mail: almart15{at}


Objectives The objective of this study was to determine complications associated with primary closure compared with reconstruction after vulvar excision and predisposing factors to these complications.

Methods Patients undergoing vulvar excision with or without reconstruction from 2011 to 2015 were abstracted from the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database. Common Procedural Terminology codes were used to characterize surgical procedures as vulvar excision alone or vulvar excision with reconstruction. Patient characteristics and 30-day outcomes were used to compare the 2 procedures. Descriptive and univariate statistics were performed. Adjusted odds ratios and confidence intervals were calculated using a logistic regression model to control for potential confounders. Two-sided α with P < 0.05 was designated as significant.

Results A total of 2698 patients were identified; 78 (2.9%) underwent reconstruction. There were no differences in age, race, body mass index, diabetes, hypertension, tobacco use, heart failure, renal failure, or functional status between the 2 groups. American Society of Anesthesiologists class 3 and 4 patients and those with disseminated cancer were more likely to undergo reconstruction (both P < 0.001). On univariate analysis, reconstruction was associated with increased risk of readmission, surgical site infection, pulmonary complications, urinary tract infection, transfusion, deep venous thrombosis, sepsis, septic shock, unplanned reoperation, longer hospital stay, need for skilled nursing or subacute rehab on discharge, and death within 30 days. On logistic regression analysis, disseminated cancer, American Society of Anesthesiologists classes 3 and 4 and reconstruction remained significant risk factors for readmission and any postoperative complication.

Conclusions Patients undergoing vulvar excision with reconstruction are at increased risk for readmission and postoperative complications compared with those undergoing excision alone. Careful patient selection and efforts to optimize surgical readiness are needed to improve outcomes. Long-term data could help determine if these 30-day outcomes are a reliable measure of surgical quality in vulvar surgery.

  • Vulvectomy
  • Vulvar surgery
  • Vulvar reconstruction
  • Surgical complications

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  • Presented at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology 49th Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer, New Orleans, LA, March 25, 2018.

  • The authors declare no conflicts of interest.