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Shoulder function after latissimus dorsi transfer in breast reconstruction


Prof B. Forthomme, University of Liege, ISEPK – B21, Allée des Sports 4, B-4000 LIEGE, Belgium


Background/Aims:  Latissimus dorsi (LD) transfer in the case of breast reconstruction remains frequently used because this muscle provides a good size source of tissue in reconstructive surgery. Given that, the consequences of the LD removal on shoulder function and the actual loss of maximal strength developed must be investigated.

Methods:  Twenty women (50 ± 7·5 years old) were evaluated before surgery, 3 and 6 months after an unilateral transfer of a pedicle flap of LD muscle used for breast reconstruction. Women performed a bilateral shoulder isokinetic assessment [for the internal rotators (IRs) and external rotators and for the abductor and adductor (ADD) muscles] allowing the establishment of bilateral muscular deficit status and the study of agonist/antagonist muscle ratios. The algofunctional and clinical status of the shoulders was analysed by the means of Constant score and specific shoulder clinical tests. The women did not perform any specific strengthening of muscle shoulder after surgery.

Results:  The isokinetic assessment showed a muscle weakness 3 and 6 months after LD transfer, mainly on the ADDs (33 ± 9% at 6 months) and on the IRs (16 ± 11% at 6 months). The Constant score significantly decreased after surgery on the operated shoulder. Women with a Constant score impairment showed pain during specific shoulder clinical tests. We also found a correlation between Constant score impairment and internal rotators weakness or rotator muscle imbalance.

Conclusion:  Given those results, we could advocate a specific shoulder strengthening after LD transfer, focused mainly on the IRs and ADDs.