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Papers of the Week

2020 May

Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd



Re-augmentation of the Axilla Using a Turn-Over Flap – a New Approach for the Surgical Treatment of Secondary Lymphedema After Breast Cancer.


Marx M, Geßner M, Florek A, Morgenstern S, Passin S, Brucker SY, Wallwiener D, Hahn M
Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd. 2020 May; 80(5):526-531.
PMID: 32435069.


Scarring and volume reduction of the axillary space resulting in persistent lymphedema is a side effect of axillary treatment in breast cancer patients. The aim of this paper is to describe the reduction of lymphedema achieved with a turnover flap. Between October 2016 and May 2018, five patients with grade 2 lymphedema following breast cancer therapy underwent reconstructive surgery with a turnover flap. Complete excision of the symptomatic axillary scar tissue followed by re-augmentation using a turnover flap was performed. Subsequently, all patients underwent breast reconstruction using a distant flap reconnected to the thoracodorsal vessels. The circumference of both arms, quality of life and pain were measured before and after surgery. An average reduction in pain in the ipsilateral arm from 6 to 1 on the numerical scale as well as an improvement in quality of life (2.8 vs. 7.0) was observed. A decrease in lymphedema especially in the upper arm was identified. No complications such as secondary bleeding, infections or flap loss were observed. Complete removal of the axillary scar tissue after breast cancer treatment and re-augmentation of the axilla with a turnover flap results in a reduction in ipsilateral lymphedema and an improvement in pain and quality of life. We interpret these findings as a result of the physiological re-alignment of the lymphatic vessels combined with a lymph node-containing local transposition flap. Therefore, re-augmentation with a turnover flap could be an effective non-microsurgical alternative to lymph node transplantation.