Minimally Invasive Laparoscopically Dissected Deep Inferior Epigastric Artery Perforator Flap: An Anatomical Feasibility Study and a First Clinical Case

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Summary:The deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap is a workhorse of breast reconstruction. Risks of herniation derive from violation of the rectus abdominis muscle anterior rectus sheath and might be reduced by minimally invasive laparoscopic dissection (“MILD”) of the deep inferior epigastric vessels. The authors performed a feasibility study on five anatomical subjects and performed a secondary right breast reconstruction on a 67-year-old woman. A 30-degree laparoscope was used with laparoscopy ports inset to preserve the flap. Blunt preperitoneal dissection followed by carbon dioxide insufflation allowed the deep inferior epigastric pedicle to be dissected and clip-sectioned. The anterior rectus sheath was opened around the perforating vessels, and the flap was anastomosed on the internal mammary vessels. The length of incision in the anterior rectus sheath was compared between laparoscopic and conventional approaches. The mean incision length in the anterior rectus sheath was 3 cm versus 12 cm in the classic approach. Average duration of laparoscopic flap harvest was 50 minutes, including a mean of 30 minutes for deep inferior epigastric dissection. Adhesions led to a 1-cm peritoneal laceration in our first anatomical subject. There were no preoperative or postoperative complications in the clinical case. The clinical procedure duration was 8 hours 15 minutes, with the anterior rectus sheath incision reduced from the conventional 12 cm to 5 cm. Flap ischemia lasted 50 minutes. The patient was discharged on postoperative day 5. This anatomical study and first successful laparoscope-assisted DIEP flap harvest prove that reduced trauma to the anterior rectus sheath is feasible and promising.

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