Venous Superdrainage in DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction: The Impact of Superficial Inferior Epigastric Vein Dissection on Abdominal Seroma Formation

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Background:Abdominal seroma formation after deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap breast reconstruction is a common donor-site complication. Additional dissection of one or both of the superficial inferior epigastric veins (SIEVs) in DIEP flap breast reconstruction allows an additional anastomosis for venous superdrainage if venous congestion occurs. However, generally, SIEV dissection involves greater invasiveness into the inguinal region, which can traumatize lymphatic tissue and lead to lymph accumulation. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of SIEV dissection on the incidence of postoperative abdominal seroma.Methods:A series of 100 consecutive cases performed by the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the Medical University of Vienna from 2001 to 2016 was analyzed. Patients were divided into three groups: unilateral, bilateral, and no SIEV dissection. Abdominal seroma rates, length of hospital stay, abdominal drainage duration, and drainage fluid volumes were compared retrospectively.Results:Seromas were observed in 11.5 percent of patients without SIEV dissection, 17.2 percent of patients with unilateral SIEV dissection (p = 0.45 versus no SIEV), and 40 percent of patients with bilateral SIEV dissection (p = 0.02 versus no SIEV). The SIEV was anastomosed to salvage a congested DIEP flap twice. All seromas that developed could be treated with, on average, two fine-needle aspirations without any complications.Conclusions:Bilateral, but not unilateral, SIEV dissection increased abdominal seroma rates significantly. Venous congestion was observed rarely, but when it did occur, it endangered flap viability. Because an additional anastomosis of the SIEV can salvage a flap, unilateral SIEV dissection should be considered when raising a DIEP flap.CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:Therapeutic, III.

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