Patient-reported assessment of functional gait outcomes following superior gluteal artery perforator reconstruction

BACKGROUND: Harvesting the superior gluteal artery perforator (SGAP) flap involves dissection of vessels through the gluteal muscle, potentially compromising gait and ambulation. We compared patient-reported gait and ambulation problems between SGAP flap and deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap reconstructions. METHODS: Forty-three patients who underwent bilateral free flap breast reconstruction (17 SGAP, 26 DIEP) participated in the study. The Lower Extremity Functional Score (LEFS) was administered with a supplementary section evaluating gait, balance, fatigue, and pain. Patients evaluated how they felt 2 months postoperatively and at time of survey administration. Multivariate regressions were fit to assess association between type of reconstruction and self-reported lower extremity function controlling for potential confounding factors. RESULTS: Although there was no significant difference in overall LEFS between the cohorts on the date of survey, the SGAP patients reported greater difficulty performing the following activities after surgery (P < 0.05): work, usual hobbies, squatting, walking a mile, walking up stairs, sitting for an hour, running, turning, and hopping. The SGAP patients also reported easier fatigue (P < 0.01) both during the early postoperative period and on the date of survey. CONCLUSIONS: SGAP flap surgery causes no statistically significant differences in overall LEFS. However, SGAP patients did report donor-site morbidity with decreased ability to perform certain activities and increased fatigue and pain in the longer follow-up period. We feel that patients should be educated regarding gait issues and undergo physical therapy during the early postoperative period.
PMCID: PMC4174196
Breast Reconstruction, Lower Extremity Functional Score (LEFS), Superior Gluteal Artery Perforator (SGAP), Surgical Flaps