Normal breast sensation was objectively quantitated with a biothesiometer, Semmes-Weinstein monofilaments, and two-point discrimination in 10 patients. Ten patients, 2 to 7 years after pedicled transverse rectus abdominis musculocutaneous flap (TRAM) breast reconstruction, were tested in a similar manner. The majority of these patients were found to have recovered measurable sensibility in the TRAM reconstruction. Recovered sensation was best in the medial and superior quadrants and improved with time. Although sensibility was present, it was still significantly different from normal sensory thresholds. A method to improve sensation by intercostal nerve repair is described. Three patients who have undergone this reconstruction have better sensibility in the reinnervated breast compared with the control breast. Sensory reeducation programs may also improve subsequent sensibility return.
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