Techniques in the prevention and management of seromas after breast surgery

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Abstract

Seromas are the most frequent complications following breast surgery, resulting in significant discomfort and morbidity with possible delays in commencing adjuvant therapies. Varied clinical practices exist in the techniques employed to prevent and manage seromata. This article assesses published literature on the techniques employed in prevention of seroma formation following breast surgery, evaluating the different methodologies used. Although prevention is the best strategy, seromata remain problematic and we consider their management. The principle findings were that prevention is key to the management of seromata. Methods employed to prevent seromata include suction drainage, shoulder immobilization, quilting sutures, fibrin sealants and innovative measures of managing the axilla, among others. The evidence demonstrated that a combination of quilting and drains significantly reduces the incidence and volumes of seromata. These effects are sustained by minimizing use of electrocautery, alongside increasing frequencies of axillary sentinel lymph node biopsies and node sampling. The efficacy data on fibrin sealants is inconclusive and consequently should not be routinely used alone or accompanied by quilting sutures. Clinically significant seromas deemed 'symptomatic' by patients and complicating infected seromas should be aspirated. There are limited data on the recommended treatment of established seromas with a paucity of high-quality studies and further research involving randomized trials are indicated.

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