Breast reconstruction using the Latissimus Dorsi (LD) flap following mastectomy is an important management option in breast cancer. However, one common, but often ignored, complication following LD flap is shoulder dysfunction. The aim of this critical review was to comprehensively assess the musculoskeletal impact of LD breast reconstruction and evaluate the functional outcome following surgery. Five electronic databases were searched including; Medline, Embase, CINAHL Plus (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health), PubMed and Web of Science. Databases were searched from 2006 – 2016, and only full text, English language articles were included. Twenty-two observational studies and two surveys were reviewed with sample sizes ranging from six to 206 participants. The majority of studies had small sample sizes and were retrospective in nature. Nevertheless, there is evidence to suggest that there is some degree of weakness and reduced mobility at the shoulder following LD muscle transfer. The literature demonstrates that there is considerable morbidity in the immediate postoperative period with functional recovery varying between studies. The majority of work tends to be limited and often gives conflicting results; therefore, further investigation is required in order to determine underlying factors that contribute to a reduction in function and activities of daily living.
- Breast reconstruction
- LD flap
- Latissimus Dorsi flap reconstruction
- breast cancer