Optimizing quality of life for patients with breast cancer-related lymphedema

a prospective study combining DIEP flap breast reconstruction and lymphedema surgery

Edward I. Chang, Amir Ibrahim, Jun Liu, Charee Robe, Hiroo Suami, Matthew M. Hanasono, Alexander T. Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Patients with breast cancer-related lymphedema can be treated with a simultaneous deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap, vascularized inguinal lymph node transfer, and lymphovenous anastomosis for aesthetic breast reconstruction and lymphedema in one operation. Methods: The authors performed a comparison of prospectively followed patients who underwent free flap breast reconstruction with vascularized inguinal lymph node transfer and anastomosis to a retrospective cohort of patients who underwent free flap breast reconstruction with vascularized inguinal lymph node transfer alone. Results: Thirty-three patients underwent DIEP flap reconstruction with vascularized inguinal lymph node transfer and lymphovenous anastomosis, and 21 received a free flap with lymph node transfer alone. There were no significant differences in demographics, adjuvant chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. The average number of nodes removed was also equivalent (21.2 versus 21.4 nodes). Two anastomoses per patient, on average, were performed (range, one to four) in the combined cohort, and all patients (100 percent) reported a subjective improvement in symptoms, compared with 81.0 percent of patients undergoing only lymph node transfer (p = 0.019). Perometer measurements demonstrated a significant reduction between the groups at early time points [3 months, 40.7 percent versus 20.0 percent (p = 0.037); 6 months, 57.0 percent versus 44.5 percent (p = 0.043)]; however, the difference was not statistically significant at 12 months (60.4 percent versus 57.8 percent; p = 0.43). Conclusion: This is the first prospective study demonstrating the safety and efficacy of a combined DIEP flap with vascularized inguinal lymph node transfer and lymphovenous anastomosis, which may be superior to lymph node transfer alone. CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic, III.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)676e-685e
Number of pages10
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Volume145
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes

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