Editorial: Plast Reconstr Surg
Rinker BD, Bowling JT, Vasconez HC.
BACKGROUND: The transfusion of blood products has a known immunomodulatory effect that may affect cancer recurrence. The present study examined whether blood transfusion is an independent risk factor for recurrence or development of metastatic disease among patients undergoing immediate breast reconstruction with a transverse rectus abdominis musculocutaneous (TRAM) flap. METHODS: Records of 103 patients who underwent mastectomy and immediate reconstruction with a TRAM flap between 1991 and 2001 were reviewed. A logistic regression analysis was used to identify independent risk factors for metastasis or recurrence. For the meta-analysis, all English-language studies regarding blood transfusion and breast cancer recurrence were reviewed, and 2 x 2 contingency tables were constructed from which a summary relative risk was calculated. RESULTS: There were 57 free and 35 pedicle TRAM flaps. Forty-nine patients (48 percent) received perioperative transfusion of nonautologous blood. Twenty patients (19 percent) experienced metastatic disease or local recurrence. Follow-up ranged from 4 to 14 years (mean, 6.7 years). There was a higher observed rate of adverse outcome in patients who received transfusion, but this was not statistically significant (p = 0.90). Of the 11 articles identified by the meta-analysis, eight used a regression analysis controlling for the effect of stage and nodal status. The summary relative risk in these studies was 1.03 (95% CI, 0.90 to 1.26). CONCLUSIONS: Perioperative blood transfusion does not seem to be an independent risk factor for metastasis or cancer recurrence in patients undergoing TRAM flap reconstruction. The observed correlation in this and prior studies may be due to the effect of other, more significant factors, such as tumor stage and nodal status