The purpose of this study was to investigate the nerve supply to the clavicular part of the pectoralis major muscle so that the innervation to this part can be maintained in the muscle-preserving pectoralis major island-flap transfer. Although methods have been described that include a limited portion of the muscle while leaving the upper parts undisturbed with an intact motor innervation, reports on anatomical studies of this nerve supply are brief. The distal distribution of the nerves, the spatial relationship to the main vascular pedicle, and the ways to preserve them during surgical procedures remain unclear. Surgically relevant features of the clavicular part of the pectoralis major muscle were studied by dissection. The nerve supply to this part was examined on 11 sides of eight formalin-fixed cadavers. Two fresh cadavers were used for dissection, intraarterial polymer injection, and application of a nerve-preserving surgical technique. In all subjects, a separate nerve innervated the clavicular and upper medial sternocostal portions of the pectoralis major muscle. This nerve arises craniomedial to the main vascular pedicle of the flap and divides into several branches. These branches run in a fascia on the deep surface of the pectoralis major muscle, superficial to the origin and distal course of the vascular pedicle. Most branches to the clavicular part end medial to the coracoid process. The course of the branches to the upper sternocostal part is more medial. Based on their anatomical findings, the authors propose a surgical technique for transfer of the pectoralis major island flap to the head and neck area through a tunnel in the deltopectoral groove, lateral to the origin of the vascular pedicle. Head and neck reconstruction was performed using this technique. The presented method is a muscle-preserving procedure that maintains maximal donor-site function and morphology.
Utrecht, The Netherlands
From the Departments of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Hand Surgery and Pharmacology and Anatomy, University Medical Center Utrecht.
Received for publication August 12, 2002;
revised December 2, 2002.
Pascal P. A. Schellekens, M.D.
Department of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Hand Surgery G 04.122
University Medical Center Utrecht
3584 CX Utrecht, The Netherlands
Presented at the Spring Meeting of the Netherlands Society of Plastic Surgery, April 18, 2002, and at the 13th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Plastic Surgeons, June 1, 2002.