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Can J Plast Surg. 2012 Spring;20(1):e16-8.

The cardiac implications of breast reconstruction using the internal mammary artery as the recipient vessel.

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Division of Cardiac Surgery, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario.


in English, French


Microsurgical breast reconstruction is a popular choice in breast reconstruction. Recipient vessel use for these autologous tissue reconstructions has shifted from the thoracodorsal to the internal mammary vessels. Coronary artery bypass (CAB) surgery remains the optimal revascularization strategy in patients with significant, diffuse coronary artery disease. The conduits of choice for coronary revascularization are the internal mammary arteries (IMA) because of their superior long-term graft patency rate and improved patient survival.


To review the cardiac risk factors in the breast reconstruction population, and to report the incidence of postoperative cardiac events at the London Health Sciences Centre, London, Ontario. The authors present the index cases illustrating cardiac complications following the use of internal mammary vessels.


A retrospective, single-centre, cumulative audit of breast reconstruction practice from 2005 to 2009 was conducted. A total of 81 patients undergoing autologous breast reconstruction were reviewed. Two women were noted to have experienced postoperative myocardial infarction requiring intervention. Both were noted to have triple-vessel disease, an indication for CAB; however, during the breast reconstruction, their IMAs had been utilized. As a result, both women subsequently underwent triple-vesssel percutaneous intervention, with one woman later requiring CAB without IMA because of recurrent ischemia.


While there is limited overlap with the breast reconstruction and cardiac disease population, there can be significant cardiac health implications in the postoperative status (both short and long term) of women undergoing autologous breast reconstruction using the IMAs as recipient vessels.


Breast reconstruction; Coronary artery bypass; Internal mammary artery; Internal thoracic artery; Microsurgery

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