Sensory Recovery of the Breast following Innervated and Noninnervated Lateral Thigh Perforator Flap Breast Reconstruction

J. Beugels, S.M.J. van Kuijk, A. Lataster, R.R.W.J. van der Hulst, S.M.H. Tuinder*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Web of Science)


Background:The lateral thigh perforator flap, based on the tissue of the upper lateral thigh, is an excellent option for autologous breast reconstruction. The aim of this study was to introduce the technique to perform a nerve coaptation in lateral thigh perforator flap breast reconstruction and to analyze the results by comparing the sensory recovery of the reconstructed breast and donor site between innervated and noninnervated lateral thigh perforator flaps.Methods:A prospective cohort study was conducted of patients who underwent an innervated or noninnervated lateral thigh perforator flap breast reconstruction between December of 2014 and August of 2018. Direct nerve coaptation was performed between a branch of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve and the anterior cutaneous branch of the intercostal nerve. Sensory testing was performed with Semmes-Weinstein monofilaments to assess the sensation of the native skin, flap skin, and donor site during follow-up.Results:In total, 24 patients with 37 innervated lateral thigh perforator flaps and 18 patients with 26 noninnervated lateral thigh perforator flaps were analyzed (median follow-up, 17 and 15 months, respectively). Significantly lower mean monofilament values were found for the native skin (adjusted difference, -0.83; p = 0.011) and flap skin (adjusted difference, -1.11; p < 0.001) of the reconstructed breast in innervated compared to noninnervated flaps. For the donor site, no statistically significant differences were found between both groups.Conclusions:Nerve coaptation in lateral thigh perforator flap breast reconstruction resulted in a significantly better sensory recovery of the reconstructed breast compared to noninnervated flaps. The data also suggest that harvesting a sensory nerve branch does not compromise the sensory recovery of the upper lateral thigh.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-292
Number of pages12
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021
Event10th Congress of the World Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery - Palazzo della Cultura e dei Congressi, Bologna, Italy
Duration: 12 Jun 201915 Jun 2019
Conference number: 10

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