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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2014 Jun;133(6):790e-804e. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000000228.

Hydrogen peroxide priming of the venous architecture: a new technique that reveals the underlying anatomical basis for venous complications of DIEP, TRAM, and other abdominal flaps.

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Parkville, Victoria, Australia From the Taylor Laboratory, Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, University of Melbourne.



Previous studies of venous anatomy lack the detail of their arterial counterparts because of (1) the technical challenge of retrograde perfusion against competent valves and (2) anterograde venous perfusion failing to adequately delineate the area of interest. We introduced a novel technique: retrograde hydrogen peroxide priming that dilates veins and renders valves incompetent, thereby facilitating complete cadaveric venous perfusion.


The superficial and deep venous systems of 41 hemiabdomens and 20 hemichests of unembalmed human cadavers were primed by retrograde injection with 6% hydrogen peroxide. Specimens were then injected with lead oxide contrast, radiographed, and dissected. In five hemiabdomens, the valves were mapped by dissection. Results were compared with archival venous studies of six total body injections, six abdominal lipectomy specimens, and two intraoperative venograms of delayed transverse rectus abdominis musculocutaneous flaps.


Unprecedented venous filling of the anterior torso was demonstrated. Two types of superficial-to-deep venous connections were defined: large venae communicantes and small venae comitantes. Venae communicantes (>2 mm) formed major connections between large superficial and deep veins, mostly within 5 cm of the umbilicus in the abdomen, the axilla and fifth or sixth intercostal space parasternally. Seventy-four percent of venae communicantes coursed with arteries greater than 1.0 mm. Four major longitudinal valved subcutaneous pathways of the superficial inferior epigastric vein and superficial circumflex iliac vein were defined bilaterally with large avalvular transverse connections in the midline and small-caliber connections laterally that explain venous complications seen sometimes in transverse abdominal flaps.


Retrograde hydrogen peroxide priming of veins in cadavers renders valves incompetent and facilitates detailed venous studies that help refine flap design and explain venous complications.

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