Article

The Retrograde Limb of the Internal Mammary Vein: An Additional Outflow Option in DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction

University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (Impact Factor: 3.33). 10/2009; 124(3):717-21. DOI: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3181b179fc
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap has become an increasingly popular option for postmastectomy reconstruction. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the retrograde limb of the internal mammary vein as a recipient vein in DIEP breast reconstruction.
Fifteen consecutive DIEP flaps in 13 patients were transferred with anastomosis of one DIEP vena comitans to the antegrade internal mammary vein and the other DIEP vena comitans to the retrograde internal mammary vein. The deep inferior epigastric artery was anastomosed to the antegrade internal mammary artery. Blood flow through the retrograde internal mammary vein was evaluated with intraoperative duplex ultrasound.
Thirty venous anastomoses in 15 DIEP flaps for breast reconstruction were performed over a 4-month period to investigate the retrograde limb of the internal mammary vein as a potential recipient vein. No evidence of intraoperative venous congestion was seen. Retrograde blood flow was demonstrated using intraoperative duplex imaging and clinical examination. All 15 flaps were successful.
The retrograde limb of the internal mammary vein is an option as a recipient vein in DIEP breast reconstruction. This outflow option may prove useful in cases with intraoperative congestion in a single vein flap, in cases with co-dominant superficial and deep venous systems, and in cases in which double-pedicle free flaps are used for unilateral breast reconstruction.

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