Free-flap donor sites are a frequent source of morbidity, including scar deformity and reduced mobility, as well as a significant contributor to recovery time after surgery. We present our technique for endoscopic harvest of the rectus abdominis muscle. A groin crease incision is made, which allows identification of the vascular pedicle and access to the inferior portion of the muscle. A balloon dissection device is inserted along the posterior rectus sheath and inflated. The inferior incision is closed over an endoscopic port after medial and lateral ports are inserted under direct vision at the level of the umbilicus. The cavity is insufflated with carbon dioxide, allowing visualization using a 10-mm, 30-degree endoscope. The remaining dissection is performed sharply, and the muscle is harvested via the groin incision. This technique has proved feasible during study in fresh human cadavers. Insufflation greatly reduces work load with retractors. The balloon device speeds dissection with a minimum of trauma. Because all dissection is performed from within the rectus sheath, the peritoneal cavity is not violated. Endoscopic rectus abdominis harvest using the fascial plane is safe and efficient and carries the potential to reduce donor-site morbidity.
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