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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2012 Apr;129(4):809-15. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e318244222d.

Strategies for recognizing and managing intraoperative venous congestion in abdominally based autologous breast reconstruction.

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University of Pennsylvania Health System 10 Penn Tower 3400 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.



Despite common superficial venous system dominance of the abdominal wall, the majority of transverse rectus abdominis musculocutaneous (TRAM)/deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flaps drain adequately, due to communicating veins with the deep system. In cases where such connections are inadequate, it is necessary for the surgeon to correctly recognize resultant congestion as an intrinsic flap issue, and treat it intraoperatively.


A retrospective analysis of 1201 consecutive TRAM/DIEP free flaps over a 5-year period was performed. All cases of inadequate venous outflow not due to technical anastomotic problems or venous thrombosis were identified and analyzed.


From a cohort of 1201 patients undergoing free TRAM and DIEP flap breast reconstruction, 11 (0.9 percent) exhibited intraoperative congestion due to persistent superficial venous system dominance, despite patent deep vein anastomosis. Most commonly (five flaps), anastomosis of the superficial inferior epigastric vein (SIEV) to a proximally dissected vena comitans of the flap deep inferior epigastric vein system (DIEV) was performed; thus, a superficial to deep venous loop was created within the flap. Intraoperative salvage rate was 100 percent.


In this series, intraoperative congestion is most commonly due to a superficially dominant flap. In such flaps, the deep venous anastomosis is patent, and yet adequate venous drainage cannot be achieved due to the lack of communicating vessels between the two systems, or due to inadequate perforator selection. Anastomosis of the SIEV to a proximally dissected vena comitans of the DIEV on the flap was performed most commonly in our series. This allows anastomosis of two veins in close proximity, and avoidance of using a second recipient vein.


Therapeutic, IV.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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