Aesthetic Plastic Surgery

, Volume 40, Issue 6, pp 869–876 | Cite as

Free Versus Pedicled TRAM Flaps: Cost Utilization and Complications

  • Samuel Golpanian
  • David J. Gerth
  • Jun Tashiro
  • Seth R. ThallerEmail author
Original Article Breast



Conventionally, free transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (fTRAM) flap breast reconstruction has been associated with decreased donor site morbidity and improved flap inset. However, clinical success depends upon more sophisticated technical expertise and facilities. This study aims to characterize postoperative outcomes undergoing free versus pedicled TRAM (pTRAM) flap breast reconstruction.


Nationwide inpatient sample database (2008–2011) was reviewed for cases of fTRAM (ICD-9-CM 85.73) and pTRAM (85.72) breast reconstruction. Inclusion criteria were females undergoing pTRAM or fTRAM breast reconstruction; males were excluded. We examined demographics, hospital setting, insurance information, patient income, and comorbidities. Clinical endpoints included postoperative complications, length-of-stay (LOS), and total charges (TC). Bivariate/multivariate analyses were performed to identify independent risk factors associated with increased complications and resource utilization.


Overall, 21,655 cases were captured. Seventy-percent were Caucasian, 95 % insured, and 72 % treated in an urban teaching hospital. There were 9 pTRAM and 6 fTRAM in-hospital mortalities. On bivariate analysis, the fTRAM cohort was more likely to be obese (OR 1.2), undergo revision (OR 5.9), require hemorrhage control (OR 5.7), suffer hematoma complications (OR 1.9), or wound infection (OR 1.8) (p < 0.003). The pTRAM cohort was more likely to suffer pneumonia (OR 1.6) and pulmonary embolism (OR 2.0) (p < 0.004). Reconstruction type did not affect risk of flap loss or seroma occurrence. TC were higher with fTRAM (p < 0.001). LOS was not affected by procedure type. On risk-adjusted multivariate analysis, fTRAM was an independent risk factor for increased LOS (OR 1.6), TC (OR 1.8), and postoperative complications (OR 1.3) (p < 0.001).


Free TRAM has an increased risk of postoperative complications and resource utilization versus pTRAM on the current largest risk-adjusted analysis. Further analyses are required to elucidate additional factors influencing outcomes following these procedures.

Level of Evidence III

This journal requires that authors assign a level of evidence to each article. For a full description of these Evidence-Based Medicine ratings, please refer to the Table of Contents or the A3 online Instructions to


Autologous breast reconstruction Free TRAM Pedicled TRAM Cost utilization Complications Length of stay 


Authors contributions

S.G. contributed to data analysis, writing manuscript, and final draft editing. D.J.G. contributed to study design, data analysis, and final draft editing. J.T. contributed to study design, statistical analysis, and data analysis. S.R.T. contributed to study design, final draft editing, and overseeing study project.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York and International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samuel Golpanian
    • 1
  • David J. Gerth
    • 1
  • Jun Tashiro
    • 1
  • Seth R. Thaller
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Plastic, Aesthetic & Reconstructive Surgery, DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of SurgeryUniversity of MiamiMiamiUSA

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