J Reconstr Microsurg 2020; 36(05): 316-324
DOI: 10.1055/s-0039-1701032
Original Article
Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Safety of Retrograde Flow of Internal Mammary Vein: Cadaveric Study and Anatomical Evidence

1  Department of Anatomy, Catholic Institute for Applied Anatomy, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Republic of Korea
,
Eunah Hong
1  Department of Anatomy, Catholic Institute for Applied Anatomy, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Republic of Korea
,
Jin Geun Kwon
2  Department of Plastic Surgery, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea
,
In-Beom Kim
1  Department of Anatomy, Catholic Institute for Applied Anatomy, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Republic of Korea
,
Jin Sup Eom
2  Department of Plastic Surgery, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea
,
Hyun Ho Han
2  Department of Plastic Surgery, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

22 July 2019

02 December 2019

Publication Date:
28 January 2020 (online)

Abstract

Background Additional second vessels may be required to handle multiple flaps used to add breast volume, boost blood flow for supercharging, or use salvage recipient vessels. In these situations, retrograde internal mammary vessel flow can be used although this causes doubts and concerns.

Patients and Methods Forty sides of the chests of 20 fresh cadavers with intact thoracic cages and internal mammary veins (IMV) were used in the study. IMV valve numbers and locations were checked, and the bifurcation was confirmed. A retrograde fluorescent angiography and a saline infusion test were followed to confirm flow direction.

Results Twenty-eight vessels were identified in 40 sides of the chest; of them, 45% had no valves. A mean 0.7 valves per chest side were identified; 23 (82.1%) of 28 valves were located above the second intercostal space (ICS). A mean 1.76 communicating veins were found between the IMV bifurcation. In all cadavers, a crossing vein connecting the left and right medial IMV was confirmed just below the xiphoid process. Fluorescent angiography and a saline infusion test proved that the retrograde flow was caudal through the bifurcated IMV to the communicating, intercostal, and crossing veins.

Conclusion The IMV valve was present in 55% of our subjects and located concentrically above the second ICS level. It is highly unlikely that the retrograde flow was disturbed because the retrograde anastomosis level was below the second ICS. Furthermore, the bifurcation, intercostal, and crossing veins across the xiphoid process enabled valve-less detour flow. Thus, retrograde IMV flow is considered safe.