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Reconstruction of pelvic exenteration and gynecologic tumor defects: a pictorial essay for a systematic method

Obstetrics & Gynecology International Journal
Krupa P Prajapati,1 Monica B Vu,1 Ellin D Li,1 John V Brown,2 Nikkie Vu-Huynh,1 Peter H Ashjian,3 Daniel Ng,4 Brian P Dickinson1

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Background: Reconstruction of the defects created by extirpative surgery or radiation for gynecologic cancer can be challenging for both patients and surgeons. In the subset of patients who present with recurrent gynecologic cancer after previously successful treatment and radiation therapy, wounds to irradiated tissue are difficult to heal, requiring a collaborative effort between the gynecologic oncologists and the plastic and reconstructive surgeons. Other factors that may hinder successful repair include comorbidities, history of radiation, ongoing tobacco use, and overall protein malnutrition. To maximize repair success, decrease recurrence, and optimize aesthetic outcome, gynecologic oncologists and plastic and reconstructive surgeons need to communicate the anticipated anatomic and physiologic obstacles to each other and to the patient.
Purpose: To create a systematic approach from our current method of gynecologic oncologic reconstruction that facilitates communication among general surgeons, gynecologic oncologists, and plastic and reconstructive surgeons to optimize gynecologic oncologic reconstructive and aesthetic outcomes while minimizing wound complications.
Methods: A retrospective chart review was conducted on patients who underwent gynecologic oncologic surgery for vulvar, vaginal, cervical, and uterine cancer over a 10-year period. A step-by-step method and categorization for gynecologic reconstruction was generated from our experience, and a pictorial essay was created to demonstrate this method and highlight the most common complications.
Results: The pictorial essay serves as a template for gynecologic oncology or plastic and reconstructive surgeons to follow and effectively close gynecologic tumor defects and facilitate patient care. The most common complications were seroma and distal skin necrosis, managed by early excision and closure without consequence. Satisfaction with surgical outcomes was high among the patients.
Conclusion: Successful repair of primary and recurrent gynecologic tumors requires communication between the gynecologic oncologist and the plastic and reconstructive surgeon. The procedures are challenging and require resilience from both the patient and the surgeons. Incision placement is important for adequate flap reconstruction to prevent wound and skin breakdown. Wound breakdown is likely and requires preoperative counseling. High protein nutritional stores are important for expeditious healing.


oncoplastic, gynecologic, oncologic, cancer, reconstruction