BACKGROUND: Bronchopleural fistula (BPF) is a dreaded complication of pulmonary resection. For high-risk patients, bronchial stump coverage with vascularized tissue has been recommended. The goal of this study was to report our experience with intrathoracic muscle transposition for bronchial stump coverage. METHODS: A retrospective review of all patients who underwent intrathoracic muscle flap transposition as a prophylactic measure at our institution between 1990 and 2010 was conducted. Demographics, surgical characteristics, and complication rates were abstracted and analyzed. RESULTS: A total of 160 patients were identified. The most common lung resections performed were pneumonectomy (n = 69, 43%) and lobectomy (n = 60, 38%). A total of 168 flaps were used where serratus anterior was the most common flap (n = 136, 81%), followed by intercostal (n = 14, 8%), and latissimus dorsi (n = 12, 7%). Ten patients (6%) developed BPF, and empyema occurred in 13 patients (8%). Median survival was 20 months, and operative mortality occurred in 7 patients (4%). CONCLUSIONS: Reinforcement of the bronchial closure with vascularized muscle is a viable option for potentially decreasing the incidence of BPF in high-risk patients. Further randomized studies are needed to determine the efficacy of this technique for BPF prevention.
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