The objectives of this study were to evaluate reconstructive methods for patients receiving brachytherapy after cancer ablation. This retrospective review evaluated 19 patients who received brachytherapy and reconstruction between 1991 and 1998. The average age of the patient was 61.9 years and the average follow-up was 2.9 years. Lesions were located in the upper extremity (N = 6), trunk (N = 2), and lower extremity (N = 11). In all patients, early postoperative brachytherapy was initiated 5 days after wound closure. The average radiation dose was 47 Gy (range, 45-50 Gy) and was delivered over a 3 to 5-day period. In each case, varying numbers of catheters were employed (average, 8 ± 5 catheters). Free flap coverage was performed in 8 patients, and the latissimus dorsi was used most often. Pedicled regional flaps were employed in 11 patients (58%). Sixteen patients (84%) had additional external beam irradiation, and 10 patients (52%) underwent preoperative chemotherapy. All flaps survived with a demonstrated low complication rate (10%). In 2 patients, partial flap necrosis and infection occurred. Three donor site complications were observed and included wound dehiscence in 2 patients and hematoma in 1 patient. Cumulative effects of external beam radiation and brachytherapy did not affect the complication rate. Location of the defect did not alter the incidence of complications. Wound complications did not delay functional rehabilitation in these patients; however, hospital stay was longer. In 8 patients local recurrence occurred (42%) between 6 and 36 months after surgery whereas in 6 patients (32%) distant metastasis was observed. Ten patients are currently alive without evidence of disease. One of the most important concerns about early postoperative brachytherapy is wound healing. With careful planning and precise reconstructive techniques, the use of brachytherapy as a part of salvage or primary surgery does not lead to increased wound morbidity. Reconstructive procedures and a multidisciplinary approach have allowed the delivery of brachytherapy in these complicated patients with low morbidity.
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