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Br J Surg. 1998 Oct;85(10):1443-5.

Prospective randomized controlled trial of preservation of the intercostobrachial nerve during axillary node clearance for breast cancer.

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1
Academic Breast Unit, University Hospital of South Manchester, West Didsbury, UK.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Complications of axillary surgery occur due to severance of the intercostobrachial nerve (ICBN). The feasibility and benefit of preserving the ICBN to prevent sensory loss was studied prospectively.

METHODS:

Sensory symptoms and deficits were documented, and shoulder movement and arm circumference were measured at discharge and 3 months later in 120 patients randomized to either preservation or division of the ICBN.

RESULT:

Preserving the ICBN was feasible in 39 (65 per cent) of the 60 patients randomized to the preservation group. Preserving the nerve prolonged the procedure by a median of 5 min. No difference in sensory symptoms between the groups was seen at 3 months. At 3 months 53 per cent of patients randomized to ICBN preservation had a sensory deficit compared with 84 per cent of those randomized to ICBN sacrifice (P < or = 0.05).

CONCLUSION:

Preserving the ICBN reduces the incidence of sensory deficit (but not symptoms) in patients after axillary clearance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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