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: 2.99). 10/2009; 124(3):717-21. DOI: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3181b179fc
Source: PubMed


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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    • "It is therefore not surprising that the indications and outcomes have not been directly compared previously. Although previous studies have examined augmenting the venous drainage of an abdominal free flap using the retrograde IMV, conversion to the TD, or lateral thoracic vein, as well as using the external jugular or the cephalic vein, an algorithm for recipient vessel selection remains to be elucidated.17–19,26,27 "
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction: When recipient veins for free-flap breast reconstruction are unavailable or inadequate, vein grafts or cephalic vein transposition (CVT) an option to provide alternate venous outflow. There are no comparative data to elucidate the indications and outcomes for each. We hypothesize that the CVT is as reliable as vein grafts when indicated. Methods: All consecutive cases where a CVT or venous vein grafts were used for free-flap breast reconstruction between 2000 and 2012 were reviewed. Patient demographics, operative notes, indications, and flap survival were compared between the 2 groups. Results: Ten patients underwent a CVT and 38 patients received a vein graft for insufficient venous outflow. There were no differences in average age, body mass index, or comorbid conditions between the groups. Similarly, there was no difference in previous radiotherapy, timing of reconstruction, or side of reconstruction. A CVT was used for salvage following venous thrombosis in 7 patients (70.0%) and for primary venous outflow in the remaining patients due to inability to use the internal mammary vein. Vein grafts were performed primarily in 31 patients, 22 for augmenting venous drainage (supercharge), 9 for the dominant venous outflow, and 7 for salvage of a thrombosis. One patient in each group suffered a complete loss of the free flap (cephalic: 10.0% vs vein graft: 14.3%, P = 0.36). Conclusions: The CVT is a reliable alternate venous outflow that can be used as a primary recipient vein or as a salvage option following venous thrombosis. Surgeons should consider a CVT when primary recipient veins are compromised or unavailable.
    Full-text · Article · May 2014
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    ABSTRACT: We have previously described the use of the retrograde limb of the internal mammary vein (IMV) as an additional venous outflow tract in deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap reconstruction. In the current study, we use the Novadaq SPY ((R)) system, a novel intraoperative angiographic method, to further validate the use of the retrograde limb of the IMV. The Novadaq SPY ((R)) system laser source was used with indocyanine green angiography to evaluate the arterial, anterograde venous, and retrograde venous anastomoses of 15 patients undergoing DIEP flap breast reconstruction. The number of perforators used, patient age, exposure to radiation, coupler size, and incidence of intraoperative congestion were recorded. All flaps survived, and there were no cases of intraoperative congestion. The average time required to perform the additional retrograde anastomosis was 12 minutes. Flow of indocyanine green not only revealed patency of our anastomoses but it confirmed unobstructed flow through the retrograde limb of the IMV. Our study further validates that the retrograde limb of the IMV does in fact achieve flow away from the DIEP flap and can therefore be used as an additional or alternative outflow tract in DIEP flap breast reconstruction surgery.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2009 · Journal of Reconstructive Microsurgery
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    ABSTRACT: Deep inferior epigastric artery perforator (DIEP) flap is an excellent option for breast reconstruction in young and active patients who have a history of chest wall radiation. One drawback, however, is that the entire capacity of abdominal pannus cannot be reliably transferred on a single pedicle. The purpose of this case report is to demonstrate a method of maximizing the volume of reconstruction with a dual-pedicled DIEP flap. A case is reported in which both antegrade and retrograde internal mammary vessels were used as recipient sites for a dual-pedicled, folded, stacked DIEP flap. Good flows were observed in both sets of recipient vessels intraoperatively. Postoperative imaging revealed patent vascular anastomoses of both pedicles. At 1-year follow-up, there was no evidence of fat necrosis and a satisfactory aesthetic outcome was achieved. To maximize the volume of the reconstructed breast, the entire abdominal pannus can be utilized. The retrograde limb of internal mammary vessels can act as the recipient site for the second pedicle, minimizing donor site morbidity.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2010 · Eplasty
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