Computed Tomographic Angiography Imaging and Clinical Implications of Internal Mammary Artery Perforator Vessels as Recipient Vessels in Autologous Breast Reconstruction

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The internal mammary artery (IMA) is the standard recipient vessel for autologous breast reconstruction. To save the IMA for bypass surgery, to keep flap pedicles short, and to allow better flap positioning, the IMA perforators were used. Forty-six flaps for immediate breast reconstructions were performed in 39 patients. In the first 22 patients, the decision to use the perforators was clinically based. In the second group of 17 patients, all patients received a thoracic computed tomographic angiography (CTA) to determine the perforators. In 13 flaps (6 deep inferior epigastric artery perforator, 3 superficial inferior epigastric artery, and 4 transverse myocutaneous gracilis), the perforators were used as recipient vessels. Of these flaps, 5 were anastomosed to perforators before the CTA was applied and 8 after the CTA was established. The CTA revealed the IMA and the perforators in detail. In immediate reconstructions, the IMA perforators can be used as recipient vessels. They allow better flap positioning for superficial inferior epigastric artery and transverse myocutaneous gracilis flaps in particular; moreover, it decreases donor site and recipient site morbidity. After introducing the CTA, the perforators were used more frequently for anastomosis.

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