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Arch Plast Surg. 2013 Nov;40(6):761-5. doi: 10.5999/aps.2013.40.6.761. Epub 2013 Nov 8.

A clinical anatomic study of internal mammary perforators as recipient vessels for breast reconstruction.

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1
Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Partially resecting ribs of the recipient site to facilitate easy anastomosis of the internal mammary vessels to free flaps during breast reconstruction can cause chest wall pain or deformities. To avoid this, the intercostal perforating branches of the internal mammary vessels can be used for anastomosis. The purpose of this study was to investigate the location and size of the internal mammary perforator vessels based on clinical intraoperative findings and to determine their reliability as recipient vessels for breast reconstruction with microsurgical free tissue transfer.

METHODS:

Twelve patients were preoperatively screened for the presence of internal mammary perforators using Doppler tracing. After modified radical mastectomy was performed by a general surgeon, the location and size of the internal mammary perforator vessels were microscopically investigated. The external diameter was examined using a vessel-measuring gauge from a mechanical coupling device, and the distance from the mid-sternal line to the perforator was also measured.

RESULTS:

The largest arterial perforator averaged 1.5 mm, and the largest venous perforator averaged 2.2 mm. Perforators emerging from the second intercostal space had the largest average external diameter; the second intercostal space also had the largest number of perforators arising from it. The average distance from the mid-sternal line to the perforator was 20.2 mm.

CONCLUSIONS:

Internal mammary perforators presented consistent and reliable anatomy in this study. Based on these results, the internal mammary perforators appear to have a suitable diameter for microvascular anastomosis and should be considered as an alternative recipient vessel to the internal mammary vessel.

KEYWORDS:

Breast neoplasms; Free tissue flaps; Mammary arteries; Mastectomy

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