Contribution of Simultaneous Breast Reconstruction by Deep Inferior Epigastric Artery Perforator Flap to the Efficacy of Vascularized Lymph Node Transfer in Patients with Breast Cancer-Related Lymphedema

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Abstract

Background

The contribution of simultaneous breast reconstruction by deep inferior epigastric artery perforator (DIEP) flap to the efficacy of vascularized groin lymph node transfer (LNT) for breast cancer-related lymphedema (BCRL) was investigated.

Methods

Patients were divided into two groups: the first group underwent groin LNT + DIEP flap surgery for simultaneous breast reconstruction (groin LNT + DIEP flap group) and the second group underwent groin LNT only (groin flap alone group). Patients with BCRL were evaluated based on indocyanine green lymphography findings. LNT was indicated only in advanced-stage BCRL cases, and groin nodes nourished by superficial circumflex iliac artery (SCIA) were used as donors. The side for the vascular pedicle(s) was decided based on our algorithm. In patients with pendulous breast, the flap was vertically transferred on the chest. Lymphatic function was assessed after LNT using imaging tests, and transferred lymph nodes were evaluated using ultrasonography.

Results

In this study, 27 patients with advanced-stage BCRL underwent LNT. Of them, 13 belonged to the groin LNT + DIEP flap group and 14 belonged to the groin flap alone group. Although reduction volume was not significantly different between the groups, the number of patients in whom lymphatic function was improved and the need for compression therapy could be reduced was significantly higher in the groin LNT + DIEP flap group than in the groin flap alone group.

Conclusion

When a patient with advanced-stage BCRL undergoes LNT based on SCIA, simultaneous breast reconstruction using DIEP flap may reduce the need for compression therapy.

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