Objective: To examine donor-site complications after omental harvest for the reconstruction of extraperitoneal wounds and defects. Summary Background Data: The omentum, with its immunologic and angiogenic properties, is a versatile organ with well-documented utility in the reconstruction of complex wounds and defects. However, the need for laparotomy and the potential for intraabdominal complications have been cited as relative contraindications to the use of the omentum as a reconstructive flap. Further, few series have assessed long-term results, and no reports have focused on donor-site complications. Methods: Patients who underwent reconstruction of extraperitoneal defects with the omentum at a single university healthcare system were identified by searching discharge databases and office records. Charts were reviewed to determine patient demographics, surgical indications and technique, postoperative complications, and outpatient follow-up. Patients with donor-site complications were compared with patients who had no complications using the Student t test and chi-square analysis. Statistical significance was defined at P < .05. Results: From 1975 to 2000, the authors successfully harvested 135 omental flaps (64 pedicled, 71 free transfer) for reconstruction of the following defects: scalp (n = 16), intracranial (n = 1), orbitofacial (n = 33), neck (n = 8), upper extremity (n = 7), lower extremity (n = 4), intrathoracic (n = 3), sternal (n = 34), breast (n = 3), chest wall (n = 18), abdominal wall (n = 1), and perineal (n = 7). Donor-site complications in 25 patients (18.5%) included abdominal wall infection (n = 9), fascial dehiscence (n = 8), symptomatic hernia (n = 8), unplanned reexploration (n = 6), postoperative ileus (n = 3), gastrointestinal hemorrhage (n = 2), delayed splenic rupture (n = 1), gastric outlet obstruction (n = 1), and late partial small bowel obstruction (n = 1). Factors associated with increased donor-site complications included the use of pedicled flaps (compared with free tissue transfer), mediastinitis, advanced age, and pulmonary failure. Of note, 53 patients had undergone previous abdominal surgery; of these, 26 patients required extensive adhesiolysis and 4 patients sustained enterotomies. Eleven patients (8.1%) had partial flap loss and three patients (2.2%) had total flap loss. Mean length of stay was 28 days. Average follow-up was 2.4 years. The death rate was 5.9%. Conclusions: The omentum can be safely harvested and reliably used to reconstruct a diverse range of extraperitoneal wounds and defects. Donor-site complications can be significant but are usually limited to abdominal wall infection and hernia. Risk factors associated with complications include the use of pedicled flaps, mediastinitis, and pulmonary failure. This low rate of donor-site complications strongly supports the use of the omentum in the reconstruction of complex wounds and defects.
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