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The extended diep flap: Extending the possibilities for breast reconstruction with tissue from the lower abdomen


  • M. Shafighi and M. A. Constantinescu contributed equally.

  • The authors have no financial interest to declare in relation to the content of this article.



The classical DIEP-flap is considered state-of-the-art in microsurgical autologous breast reconstruction. Some patients may require additional volume to match the contralateral breast. This quality control study prospectively evaluates the feasibility and outcome of a surgical technique, which pursues the volumetric augmentation of the DIEP-flap by harvesting of additional subscarpal fat tissue cranial to the classical flap border.

Patients and methods:

For radiologically based estimation of volumetric flap-gain potential, abdominal CT-scans of 10 Patients were randomly selected and used for computerized volumetric estimates. Surgical evaluation of the technique was prospectively performed between 09/2009 and 09/2010 in 10 patients undergoing breast reconstruction with extended DIEP-flap at two institutions. The outcome regarding size, volume, and symmetry was evaluated.


Radiologically, the mean computed volume gain of an extended DIEP was 16.7%, when compared with the infraumbilical unilateral flap volume. Clinically, the intraoperatively measured mean volume gain was of 98.6 g (range: 75–121 g), representing 13.8% of the flap volume. All 10 flaps survived without revision surgery. In three flaps, minor fat necrosis occurred in zone III and was treated conservatively. No fat necrosis was observed in the extended flap area.


In this first prospective series, the extended DIEP-flap proved to be feasible, reliable and safe for its use in breast reconstruction. Both radiological estimation and intraoperative measurements demonstrated a statistically significant volume gain with no complications in the extended area. The technique is of benefit in selected patients requiring additional reconstructive volume than the one achieved with the classical DIEP-flap.

Level of evidence:

Therapeutic Level IV. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Microsurgery, 2013.

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