BACKGROUND: Although sentinel lymph node biopsy is rapidly replacing complete axillary lymph node dissection for lymph node staging in women with clinically node-negative breast cancer, it is unclear what impact the transition to sentinel lymph node biopsy will have on the practice of breast reconstruction. METHODS: To determine the effect of the transition from complete axillary lymph node dissection to sentinel lymph node biopsy on their practice of breast reconstruction, the authors reviewed the records of 717 patients with breast cancer who underwent sentinel lymph node biopsy and 1887 breast reconstructions-487 were performed in patients who also underwent sentinel lymph node biopsy at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center between 1998 and 2003. RESULTS: Before 1999, sentinel lymph node biopsy was performed infrequently. Between 1999 and 2003, the number of sentinel lymph node biopsy procedures performed per year increased almost 50-fold. Concurrent with this increase in the use of sentinel lymph node biopsy, there was a corresponding increase in the proportion of breast reconstruction procedures performed in patients who had also undergone sentinel lymph node biopsy (13 percent per year, p = 0.0001). In 2003, 54 percent of all breast reconstructions were performed in patients who had sentinel lymph node biopsy. In 2000, 1 year after the use of sentinel lymph node biopsy began to increase, the choice of recipient vessels for free transverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (TRAM) flap breast reconstruction began to change. Between 2001 and 2002, the internal mammary vessels replaced the thoracodorsal vessels as the preferred recipient vessels for TRAM flap reconstruction (p < 0.0001). Over the study period, the authors noted a decrease in the percentage of free TRAM flap procedures requiring revision, more frequent use of contralateral implant-based augmentation to achieve symmetry, an increase in the percentage of patients desiring a second attempt at reconstruction after loss of a TRAM flap, and a decrease in the percentage of patients being referred for physical therapy or treatment of lymphedema after free TRAM flap reconstruction. CONCLUSIONS: The transition from axillary lymph node dissection to sentinel lymph node biopsy has resulted in a change in breast reconstruction practices. The increased use of the internal mammary vessels reflects the decreased dissection of axillary tissue to expose the thoracodorsal vessels with sentinel lymph node biopsy in addition to concern that a subsequent axillary surgery to remove additional axillary nodes might injure the thoracodorsal vessels should they be used in breast reconstruction. Awareness of the decreased morbidity associated with sentinel lymph node biopsy has led patients to expect less morbidity and better aesthetic outcomes from TRAM flap reconstruction.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery|
|State||Published - Oct 1 2006|
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