Effect of breast reconstruction modality on the development of postmastectomy shoulder morbidity

Kyong Je Woo, Kyeong Tae Lee, Goo Hyun Mun, Jai Kyong Pyon, Sa Ik Bang

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13 Scopus citations


Background: The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of breast reconstruction modality on the incidence of shoulder morbidity. Methods: Breast cancer patients who underwent immediate reconstructions using three modalities, namely, tissue expander-implant, latissimus dorsi (LD) pedicled flap, and deep inferior epigastric artery perforator (DIEP) flap, from 2008 to 2013 were examined. The cumulative incidence of shoulder morbidity was compared among the reconstruction modalities, and risk factor analysis was performed using multivariable analysis. Results: A total of 430 reconstructions (223 expander-implant, 44 LD flap, and 163 DIEP flap) in 420 patients were analyzed in this study. Shoulder morbidity developed in 95 patients (22.1%) and was most common in the LD group (43.2%) followed by the expander-implant (23.8%) and the DIEP (14.1%) groups over a mean follow-up of 52 (range: 24–120) months. The multivariable analysis showed that the expander-implant (odds ratio (OR) 2.15, p = 0.010) and the LD flap (OR 6.27, p < 0001) were significant risk factors for shoulder morbidity, compared to the DIEP flap. Old age (p = 0.041), presence of tumor-positive lymph nodes (p = 0.014), and receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy (p = 0.002) were independent risk factors for the development of shoulder morbidity. Early rehabilitation within 2 postoperative-months reduced the risk of sustained shoulder morbidity. Conclusion: The choice of reconstruction modality might affect the development of postmastectomy shoulder morbidity. Understanding the risk factors for shoulder morbidity would help to improve the informed consent process and assist surgeons in the early diagnosis and initiation of rehabilitation therapy to prevent chronic shoulder dysfunction after breast reconstruction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1761-1767
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018


  • Breast reconstruction
  • Deep inferior epigastric artery perforator flap
  • Expander-implant
  • Latissimus dorsi flap
  • Rehabilitation
  • Shoulder morbidity


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