Intraoperative venous congestion is a main complication in deep inferior epigastric artery perforator (DIEP) flap for breast reconstruction. We present a pedicle measuring technique to precisely predict the length of pedicle needed in DIEP free flap, to improve the outcome, and to reduce the risk of donor site morbidity and complications.
Materials and Methods
A single-center, open-label, prospective, randomized study was carried out to access efficacy and safety of a pedicle measuring technique in 389 patients. Each patient received a delayed breast reconstruction using free unipedicled DIEP flap, and internal mammary vessels were chosen as recipient vessels. During the surgery, the conventional DIEP flap technique was used in the control group, in which the course of the pedicle was fully dissected. In the measuring group, the flap in setting way was decided preoperatively, the distance (A) between the internal mammary vessels (a) and the point of DIEP perforator into the subcutaneous tissue (b) was measured, and then the length (B) of the perforator (c) and the main trunk (d) is measured and dissected to achieve 1 cm longer than A.
There are 180 and 209 patients enrolled in the control and measuring group, respectively. Venous congestion occurred in 15 patients (8.3%) in the control group, and 1 patient (0.5%) in the measuring group (P < 0.001). All the 16 patients were found venous thrombosis. Then successful free flap salvage surgeries were performed in 10 patients. Six patients (3.3%) had total flap necrosis due to recurrent venous thromboembolisms. Fat necrosis occurred in 16 patients (8.9%) in the control group, and 5 patients (2.4%) in the measuring group (P = 0.006). Partial flap necrosis was found in 12 patients (6.7%) in the control group, and in 3 patients (1.4%) in the measuring group (P = 0.008). Total flap necrosis occurred in 6 patients (3.3%) in the control group, but no (0%) patient in the measuring group (P = 0.009).
Measurement of pedicle length for DIEP flap transferring in breast reconstruction is a reliable technique that could secure the DIEP free flap, reduce operative invasiveness, and lower the risk of complications considerably.