Radiation to the Breast: Complications Amenable to Surgical Treatment

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Major complications of radiation directed to the breast, axilla, and mediastinum were treated in 54 patients from 1974 to 1983. A classification of these complications facilitates both an understanding of the pattern of injury and the development of a treatment plan. Classified ion: I. Breast necrosis; II. Radionecrosis and Chest Wall Ulceration; III. Accelerated Coronary Atherosclerosis with Median Sternotomy Wound Failure After Coronary Revascularization; IV. Brachial Plexus Pain and Paresis; V. Lymphedema and Axillary Cicatrix; VI. Radiation-induced Neoplasia. The treatment has evolved during the 10-year study period to excision of the necrotic wound, including any tumor, and closure with a transposed muscle or musculocutaneous flap of latissimus dorsi (II, HI, V) or rectus abdominis (I, II, VI). This strategy reflects a change from primary use of the omentum during the first years of the study. The vascularity, oxygen and antibiotic delivery of these muscle and musculocutaneous flaps promote wound healing, usually with one operation. The transfer of these muscles has not caused significant functional deficits.

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