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The latissimus dorsi (LD) myocutaneous flap has been a long term standard for breast reconstruction. The variable indications for the LD flap have not been statistically examined because of the relative infrequency of its use by any single surgeon or institution.
The Nationwide Inpatient Sample data set was queried for all patient encounters involving a LD myocutaneous flap procedure. The study population was further restricted to female patients with a history of breast cancer or previous mastectomy. Demographics, Charlson Comorbidity Index scores, previous radiation history, and additional simultaneous procedures were extracted. Analysis was performed using nonparametric correlation coefficients and linear regression models.
In total, 2304 LD breast reconstruction hospitalizations were identified between 2008 and 2010. Average patient age was 52.1 years, average hospital length of stay (LOS) was 2.8 days, bilateral latissimus reconstruction was performed in 252 (10.9%) patients, and 1414 patients (61.4%) were delayed reconstruction. Previous irradiation was present in 389 (16.9%) patients and was correlated with delayed reconstruction (P < 0.001).
Younger age was associated with bilateral latissimus reconstructions (P < 0.05), contralateral free flap reconstruction (P < 0.0001), and combination with implants or tissue expanders (both P < 0.0001).
After adjustment for age and Charlson Comorbidity Index, increased LOS was observed in patients undergoing contralateral free flap reconstruction (+1.29 days, P < 0.05) and immediate reconstruction (mastectomy, +0.39 days unilateral, P < 0.05; +0.64 days, bilateral, P < 0.001). The use of tissue expanders and implants were found to decrease hospital LOS (bilateral implant, −0.65 days, P < 0.001; bilateral expander, −0.72 days, P < 0.001), likely from confounding comorbidities. Charlson Comorbidity Index was strongly related to LOS (+0.08 days per point, P < 0.005), whereas age was not statistically significant when considered with comorbidity.
The LD is most commonly used for delayed or salvage breast reconstruction, with particular utility in irradiated patients. Younger patients tend to undergo more involved LD variants with bilateral reconstructions and expanders or implants. After adjusting for comorbidity, age and the use of bilateral latissimus flaps with implants or expanders have no adverse impact on LOS.

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