A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Functional Shoulder Impairment After Latissimus Dorsi Breast Reconstruction

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Purpose The latissimus dorsi flap (LDF) is a very reliable flap and may be used for a multitude of reconstructive purposes. It is widely used for breast reconstruction when performed. It has few complications, except for a possible impact on shoulder function. The aims of this study were to evaluate the validity of the literature by investigating the level of evidence and to perform a meta-analysis. Methods A systematic literature search was conducted using the databases PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science. Predictor variables were shoulder function after breast reconstruction with the LDF. Articles were chosen according to 4 different outcomes: shoulder range of motion (ROM), shoulder strength, DASH score, and subjective evaluation. Results Twenty-six articles were found, including 1045 patients: 8 level II, 16 level III, 1 level IV, and 1 level V articles. The meta-analysis showed that both ROMs for flexion and abduction are significantly impaired at less than or at 3 months of follow-up. Conclusions There are several influencing factors, such as age, smoking, obesity, radiotherapy, and physiotherapy. Moreover, the impact on shoulder function seemed influenced by the type of thoracodorsal vessel-based flap. From the level of evidence analysis, there is a tendency that the LDF transfer does affect shoulder function. This limitation seems to be minimal, and few patients experience a major impact on shoulder function. However, the existing literature on total shoulder impairment after breast reconstruction with LDF is insufficient to draw any final conclusion. There is a need for future studies and current articles that suggest that the initial measurement should be performed preoperatively (preferably at the time of diagnosis or initial biopsy) and follow-ups with measurements at 6, 12, and 24 months (long-term effect) after surgery. We recommend measurements of both operated and nonoperated sides. Each measurement should be accompanied by a history with special emphasis on shoulder function. The methods of measuring outcomes of recommendation are DASH score, ROM with use of a goniometer preferably by a physiotherapist or a health care professional trained by a physiotherapist, and strength measured by, for example, a handheld dynamometer.

TidsskriftAnnals of Plastic Surgery
Sider (fra-til)116-127
Antal sider12
StatusUdgivet - jan. 2019

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