Irradiation-associated chest wall lesions pose a significant health hazard to the patient. The principles of management include (1) biopsy of any open wounds to rule out the recurrence or persistence of tumor, (2) aggressive debridement of all offending tissues, and (3) reconstruction with well-vascularized flap tissue. Numerous questions arise regarding the practical management of these patients. The controversies that have arisen during our management of more than 100 of these patients have been discussed. It is appropriate to perform reconstruction following nonhealing of a superficial ulcer or immediately following the excision of a full-thickness chest wall defect. Hyperbaric oxygen can serve as a useful adjunct. It is rarely necessary to use a prosthetic material for the purpose of chest wall stabilization during the reconstruction of full-thickness defects. Paradoxic chest wall movement in the postoperative period does not significantly affect pulmonary function tests and is generally a transient problem. Subtotal excisions are frequently necessary. As long as all of the necrotic or tumor-bearing tissue has been fully removed, these wounds can be expected to heal in most instances by placing vascularized tissue into the defect. Operative sites in previously irradiated chest wall tissue can be expected to heal if proper and careful surgical technique is employed. Nevertheless, there is a risk of wound breakdown following any surgery in irradiated tissue. Finally, we believe it is appropriate to proceed with aesthetic recontouring of chest wall deformities associated with irradiation exposure.
Granick, Larson, Solomon, , , , , , (1993). Radiation-related wounds of the chest wall. Clinics in plastic surgery, 1993 Jul;20(3):559-71. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8324994