The deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP)-flap continues to be the standard treatment in microsurgical breast reconstruction. Reasons for the popularity of the DIEP-flap include the availability of a large amount of tissue for the reconstruction of large breasts, a reliable vascular anatomy and an aesthetically pleasing donor site scar. However, the DIEP-flap is not considered the optimal choice as the donor tissue in all patients. Previous abdominal surgeries with resulting scars may threaten the success of a free DIEP-flap due to compromised vascularity within the flap. We elaborated a technique to increase the safety of breast reconstruction with the DIEP-flap in the presence of an infraumbilical vertical scar.
After raising the DIEP-flap in a traditional manner on one side with harvesting of a considerate length of the inferior epigastric vessels, a segment of the superior epigastric vessels is left attached to the main pedicle. This stump of the superior epigastric vessels is now anastomosed under the microscope to a paraumbilical perforator on the contralateral side of the flap for in-flap microvascular augmentation.
The above-mentioned technique was applied in five patients who presented with an infraumbilical vertical scar and were reconstructed with a DIEP-flap because of breast cancer. In three of the five patients there was an additional risk factor present such as smoking or diabetes mellitus. In all five patients no major complication due to marginal perfusion of the contralateral side of the flap was encountered. In two patients there was minor breakdown of fatty tissue that was managed conservatively in both cases.
In-flap microvascular augmentation of DIEP-flaps is a valuable tool for the plastic surgeon in microvascular breast reconstruction. It permits usage of the lower abdominal tissue even if perfusion is compromised due to midline scarring. We recommend this technique as a safe alternative in patients seeking autologous breast reconstruction in the presence of a midline abdominal scar.
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Published online: January 22, 2007
Accepted: November 4, 2006
Received: March 29, 2006
© 2007 British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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- Refinements of the deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap for optimal blood supply: Reply to ‘Schoeller T, Wechselberger G, Roger J, Hussl H, Huemer GM. Management of infraumbilical vertical scars in DIEP-flaps by crossover anastomosis. 2007;60:524-8.Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic SurgeryVol. 61Issue 4
- PreviewWe read with interest the paper by Schoeller et al.1 to increase the safety of the DIEP flap in patients with an infraumbilical scar. They describe clearly ‘in flap microvascular augmentation’, by anastomosing the superior epigastric vessels of the DIEP flap to a contralateral paraumbilical perforator.