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An Appraisal of Internal Mammary Artery Perforators as Recipient Vessels in Microvascular Breast Reconstruction—An Analysis of 515 Consecutive Cases

Vollbach, Felix H. MD; Heitmann, Christoph D. MD; Fansa, Hisham MD, MBA

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery – Global Open: December 2016 - Volume 4 - Issue 12 - p e1144
doi: 10.1097/GOX.0000000000001144
Original Article

Background: The usage of internal mammary artery perforators (IMAPs) has been described in autologous breast reconstruction although IMAPS are not yet considered standard recipient vessels. It remains unclear if these vessels can be safely used in large flaps after radiation therapy or in delayed breast reconstruction.

Methods: Over a 2-year period, 515 free flaps for autologous breast reconstruction were performed on 419 patients by 2 surgeons (S1 and S2). In a retrospective analysis, time of reconstruction, ischemia time, flap weight, diameter of couplers, and complications were analyzed. All 515 flaps were compared in a subset with regard to the 2 surgeons: S1 who always used the IMA as a recipient vessel and S2 who attempted IMAP use if possible.

Results: Of all 515 flaps, 424 were abdominal flaps and 91 flaps were from the upper thigh. Three hundred six cases were immediate reconstructions, and 112 were delayed reconstructions. In 97 cases, implants were converted to autologous tissue. In 112 cases, the IMAPs were used; of these, 82 were immediate and 17 were delayed reconstructions, and in 13 cases, implants were removed. Thirty-five percent of all anastomoses to IMAPs had previous radiation therapy. The flap failure rate was 1.9%. In none of these cases, the IMAPs were used. S1 never used the IMAP, and S2 used the IMAP in 37% of all of his flaps.

Conclusions: IMAPs were safely used in all kinds of reconstructions and after radiation therapy, with no flap failure or negative effects on mastectomy skin flap perfusion. Using the IMAPs as recipient vessels is a further step toward simplifying microsurgical breast reconstruction.

From the Center for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and Reconstructive Breast Surgery, Prof. Heitmann & Prof. Fansa, Munich, Germany.

Received for publication August 4, 2016; accepted October 5, 2016.

Disclosure: The authors have no financial interest to declare in relation to the content of this article. The Article Processing Charge was paid for by the authors.

Hisham Fansa, MD, MBA, Center for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery and Reconstructive Breast Surgery, Prof. Heitmann & Prof. Fansa, Maximilianstr 38/40, 80539 Munich, Germany, E-mail:

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Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on behalf of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. All rights reserved.