Article

Alleviation of venous congestion in muscle-sparing free TRAM flaps with a temporary angiocatheter.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (Impact Factor: 3.33). 07/2010; 126(1):29e-31e. DOI: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3181dab3f6
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: Venous congestion in a free TRAM or DIEP flap when the main pedicle is still patent (both the artery and the vein) is an occasional dire situation. Here, we describe ways of salvaging the free TRAM or DIEP flap from imminent loss. In the last 4 years, we have had three patients who developed venous congestion after the use of the TRAM or DIEP flap for breast reconstruction. This was detected as late as the third postoperative day in our first patient. On exploration, patent arterial and venous anastomoses were found. Fortunately, the opposite pedicle had been dissected and preserved with the flap. The patent congested vein in this pedicle was anastomosed to the cephalic vein using an interpositional vein graft, relieving the congestion. In the other two patients congestion was detected earlier and relieved using the superficial inferior epigastric vein. It has been our policy to dissect a length of the opposite pedicle and/or preserve a length of the superficial inferior epigastric vein or the superficial circumflex iliac vein. These can then be used to augment venous drainage if inadequacy is noted at the end of the operation or during the postoperative period.
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    ABSTRACT: A series of 240 deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flaps and 271 free transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (TRAM) flaps from two institutions was reviewed to determine the incidence of diffuse venous insufficiency that threatened flap survival and required a microvascular anastomosis to drain the superficial inferior epigastric vein. This problem occurred in five DIEP flaps and did not occur in any of the free TRAM flaps. In each of these cases, the presence of a superficial inferior epigastric vein that was larger than usual was noted. It is therefore suggested that if an unusually large superficial inferior epigastric vein is noted when a DIEP flap is elevated, the vein should be preserved for possible use in flap salvage. Anatomical studies with Microfil injections of the superficial venous system of the DIEP or TRAM flap were also performed in 15 cadaver and 3 abdominoplasty specimens to help determine why venous circulation (and flap survival) in zone IV of the flaps is so variable. Large lateral branches crossing the midline were found in only 18 percent of cases, whereas 45 percent had indirect connections through a deeper network of smaller veins and 36 percent had no demonstrable crossing branches at all. This absence of crossing branches in many patients may explain why survival of the zone IV portion of such flaps is so variable and unpredictable.
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    ABSTRACT: A simple and effective technique is described for salvaging TRAM flaps with venous compromise. This has proven to be a valuable supplement to our technical armamentarium.
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