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Kasr el-aini journal of surgery Volume 14, No.2, May 2013
1
Impact of dead space closure and lymph vessel ligation
during MRM on Post-operative seroma formation: A two
institutional randomized study.
Hany F. Habashy MD.a
, Ihab S. Fayek MD b
, Mohamed I.Abd el aziz MD a
a:Department of Surgery-Fayoum University Hospital-El Fayoum , Egypt
b:Department of Surgical Oncology –National Cancer Institute – Cairo University ,Egypt
Abstract
Background: Seroma formation is the most common post-operative (PO)sequela
among female patients undergoing modified radical mastectomy (MRM) for breast
cancer; reducing the volume and timing of formation and drainage remains a goal
always sought by breast surgeons.
Methods: 110 breast cancer female patients were selected randomly (T2) and divided
into two groups. Group 1(no=56) was operated on by using the new surgical technique
by ligating all the tissues connecting the axillary vein bundle to the specimen, to suture
anterior edge of latissimuss dorsi muscle to the chest wall and to suture the skin flaps to
the underlying muscle by subcutaneous sutures in rows, group 2 (no=54)was operated
on by the conventional technique.
Results: the drainage volume in the first 3 days for patients in group 1 was significantly
less than that in group 2 (P value less than 0.05) .the duration of drainage in group 1
was shorter than in group 2 (P value less than 0.05) .the seroma formation in group1
(3.6%) which is significantly less than that in group2 (16.7%) (P value less than 0.05).
Conclusion: Dead space closure and lymph vessel ligation during MRM significantly
reduces the incidence, volume, and duration needed for drainage of PO seroma
following MRM.
KEYWORDS: Seroma; Modified radical mastectomy; Breast cancer.
Kasr el-aini journal of surgery Volume 14, No.2, May 2013
2
Introduction
Seroma is defined as a serous fluid
collection that develops under the skin
flaps following mastectomy or in the
axillary dead space after axillary
dissection.(1)
Seroma formation is the most frequent
post-operative complication after breast
cancer surgery. It occurs in most
patients after mastectomy and is now
increasingly being considered side
effect of surgery rather than a
complication however, all patients are
not clinically symptomatic. (2, 9)
Incidence of seroma formation after
breast surgery varies between 2.5% and
51%. (3-5)
Although seroma is not life threatening,
it can lead to significant morbidity (e.g.
flap necrosis, wound dehiscence,
predisposes to sepsis, prolonged
recovery period, multiple physician
visits) and may delay adjuvant therapy.
(6,7)
Fluid collection is ideally managed by
repeated needle aspiration to seal the
skin flaps against the chest wall. The
aetiology of seroma formation is not yet
quite clear.(10)
Several factors have been investigated
as the cause of seroma formation these
include age, duration of wound
drainage, use of pressure garment,
postoperative arm activity, intraoperative
lymphatic channel ligation was done or
not, preoperative chemotherapy, and
use of electro cautery. (3, 8, 19)
Studies on the composition of the fluid
collected from postmastectomy drainage
suggest an inflammatory origin, while
others have hypothesized that seroma is
most likely to originate from lymph. (11,
12)
The optimal way to reduce incidence of
seroma formation is unknown. Some
evidence exists that placing sutures
from the skin flaps to the underlying
muscles can obliterate the dead space,
thus reducing the seroma formation.
(13, 14, 15)
This study aiming to reduce the
incidence of seroma formation by using
an altered surgical technique, is a
randomized trial based on the
hypothesis that axillary lymph leakage
and dead space are major important
contributors to seroma formation,and
that surgical techniques applied to seal
off axillary interrupted lymph vessels
and to obliterate the dead space might
reduce the incidence of this
complication.
Methods
Patients and surgical technique
This study was conducted in the
department of surgery at Fayoum
university hospital and the National
cancer institute - Cairo University.
Kasr el-aini journal of surgery Volume 14, No.2, May 2013
3
Figure 1: ligation of lymphatic vessels Figure2 (a): suturing the anterior border of
LDM to chest wall.
Figure 2(b): closure of dead space between LDM and chest wall.
Figure3: suturing the skin flap to underlying muscle in rows.
Kasr el-aini journal of surgery Volume 14, No.2, May 2013
4
From May 2011 to March 2012, 110
patients with late T2 breast cancer who
were scheduled as candidates for
elective unilateralmodified radical
mastectomy without immediate
reconstruction were randomly
preoperatively divided into 2 groups,
group1 and group 2, for which
mastectomies were performed using
different surgical techniques. Surgery for
the 2 groups was performed by the
same surgical team. Axillary dissection
was done up to level III in all cases.
In group 1, in an attempt to seal off
axillary lymphatic vessels and obliterate
the dead space, we used the technique
of lymph vessel ligation and suturing
skin flaps to the underlying muscle, and
all the tissues connecting axillary vein to
the specimen were ligated.
Once the anterior surface of the axillary
vein was exposed, sharp rather than
blunt dissection was performed, and the
bleeding vessels and all of the fat pads
were ligated just below the axillary vein
with 3-0 vicryl sutures. (Fig.1)
Next, the thoracodorsal vein, with its
accompanying artery and nerve
comprising the thoracodorsal
neurovascular bundle, was identified,
and the small vascular branch along
with all the fat pad coursing toward the
axillary contents was carefully ligated.
Then, the long thoracic nerve, usually
seen lying against chest wall, was
identified and preserved. The dissection
was then completed by freeing the
inferior axillary contents from the chest
wall, followed by insertion of a suction
drain in the axilla.
The anterior edge of latissimus dorsi
was identified by electrocautery and
then stitched to the serratus anterior
muscle anterior to the long thoracic
nerve which was preserved after
removal of the specimen.(Fig.2)
The skin flaps were fixed by
subcutaneous sutures to the underlying
musclebyapproximately 15 vicryl sutures
at periodic intervals, placed from the
skin flap to the underlying muscle, if
moderate to severe dimpling was
observed, the stitch was removed and
replaced.(Fig.3)
In group 2, the control group, the
procedure was generally performed in a
similar fashion, but axillary dissection
was carried out bluntly instead of
sharply; the bleeding vessel branches
linking axillary vein bundle or
thoracodorsal bundle to the specimen
were freed and ligated, and the
accompanying fat pad was freed bluntly
or cut with electrocautery or scalpel but
was not ligated. The anterior edge of the
latissimus dorsi muscle was not fixed to
the chest wall. Skin flaps was not fixed
to underlying muscle.
Kasr el-aini journal of surgery Volume 14, No.2, May 2013
5
In both groups, all resected specimens
were examined and the lymph nodes
dissected, counted, and assessed
histopathologically for metastases.
External compression dressing was
provided over the axilla for the first 3
postoperative days and the patients
were encouraged to do active and
passive shoulder exercises starting from
day one postoperative. The drain 18
Fr.double arms redivac was inserted.
The bottle was changed every 24 hours
and the daily drain output was
measured and recorded. Drain
obstruction was recorded if it occurred
an adjustment was needed. The drain
was removed when the output was less
than 50 mL in 24 hours regardless of
time elapsed after surgery. Each patient
was seen 1 week after discharge and
weekly thereafter or more frequently as
needed. The daily drain output in the
first 3 postoperative days was measured
in each group and compared between
the 2groups. The length of drainage in
both groups was calculated and
compared.
The operative time, defined as the time
from onset of surgery to the end of
wound closure, was calculated. The
operative time was compared between
the 2 groups. The associated morbidity
in the form of seroma formation,
hematoma, flap necrosis, and wound
infection was recorded. Seroma was
defined as a fluid collection via palpation
on clinical examination. A blood
collection under the skin, removable by
aspiration, was considered as
hematoma. Flap necrosis was defined
as any visible necrosis along the edge
of the wound.
Results:
In all, 110 breast cancer patients were
included into the study with 56in group 1
and 54 in group 2. The two groups were
not statistically different regarding age,
weight, number of axillary lymph nodes
resected, and number of cases with
positive nodes indicating the success of
randomization. (Table 1)
The mean time of surgery was about 18
minutes longer for group 1 than that for
group 2 (103.41 minutes vs. 85.63
minutes). No patients in either groups
received intraoperative blood
transfusion. 3 patients had the drain
obstructed in group 2, whereas none
had the problem in group 1 (P<0.05).
The daily drain output in the initial 3
postoperative days in group 1 was
significantly less than that in group 2
(P<0.05). Drains were removed earlier
in group 1 than those in group 2 (P<
0.05). The incidence of seroma
formation for group 1 (3.6%) was
significantly less than that for group 2
(16.7%) (P< 0.05). A small hematoma,
probably due to the penetration of a
suture into a vessel in the muscle tissue,
was observed in the first postoperative
day in 1 patient in group 1, but no
significant difference was found
between the 2 groups in terms of
hematoma, wound infection, or flap
necrosis. No other complications were
seen for all patients in the study.(Table
2)
Kasr el-aini journal of surgery Volume 14, No.2, May 2013
6
Moreover, as is shown inTable 2, the
median drainage volume decreased
very quickly in group 1 in the initial 3
postoperative days and the individual
drainage volume in day 3 was no more
than 50 mL/24 h for all patients in group
1; in contrast, the median drainage
volume did not decrease so rapidly in
group 2, and the individual drainage
volume was still greater than 100 mL/24
h after 3 postoperative days in some
patients.
Table 1: Patients characteristics and surgical intervention.
NS= No Statistical Significance.
Table 2: Comparison between operating time, drainage volume and complications
NS= No Statistical Significance.
variables Group1(no=56) Group 2 no=(54) P Value
Mean age (year) 50.41 51.30 NS
Mean weight (Kg) 71.43 68.17 NS
Mean No. of lymph
nodes resected
27.34 28.15 NS
Variables Group 1(no=56) Group 2 no=(54) P value
Operative time (min) 103.41 85.63 Less than 0.05
Drain volume day 1 (ml) 153.65 241.81 Less than 0.05
Drain volume day 2(ml) 78.24 156.32 Less than 0.05
Drain volume day 3(ml) 54.47 122.98 Less than 0.05
Time of
drainage(days)removed
when less than
50cc/day for 2
successive days
5.81 11.07 Less than 0.05
Obstruction of drain
(%)
0 5.36 Less than 0.05
Hematoma (%) 1.8 0 NS
Wound infection (%) 0 0 NS
Flap necrosis (%) 0 0 NS
Seroma formation (%) 3.6 16.7 Less than 0.05
Kasr el-aini journal of surgery Volume 14, No.2, May 2013
7
Discussion:
The pathogenesis of seroma has not
been fully understood. (16) However,
several studies have indicated that it
may originate from lymph. (11, 12)
McCaul et al., 2000 investigated the
hematologic and biochemical
composition of the drain fluid on days 3
and 4 after mastectomy and axillary
clearance and found that it was most
similar to inflammatory exudates,
although lymph and serum undoubtedly
made a small contribution.(18)Then the
size of the dead space after wound
closure and handling tissues during the
operation may have been factors that
significantly affect fluid collection
postoperatively. McCaul et al., 2000
pointed out that the elements of surgical
technique may well be responsible for
the observed intersurgeon variation in
frequency of postmastectomy seroma
formation. (18)
Historically, Halsted suggested
obliteration of the dead space
particularly in the axilla to facilitate
wound healing.(17) More recently,
Chilson et al., 1992 noted that there
was a decrease in the incidence of post-
mastectomy seroma in their institution
and the number of postoperative clinic
visits for aspiration of seroma when flap
tacking was performed.(19)
O'Dwyer et al., 1991 reported that
closing the dead space by suturing skin
flaps to the underlying muscle combined
with early drain removal correlated with
a low incidence of seroma formation
after mastectomy.(20) In a prospective
randomized clinical trial, Coveney et al.,
1993 showed significantly less drainage
in the group of patients in whom skin
flaps were sutured down to the chest
wall muscles compared with those with
just conventional skin flap closure.(14)
In a more recent prospective study,
Schuijtvlot et al., 2002 compared the
effect of buttress suture with non-
buttress suture after breast-conserving
surgery and axillary dissection. They
showed that the use of buttress suture
reduced seroma formation. (13)
Following axillary dissection without
axillary drain Classe et al., 2006
showed that axillary padding using
axillary aponeurosis and local muscle
flaps to fill the dead space could be
used as an alternative to closed vacuum
suction after axillary lymphadenectomy
with early discharge. (15)
As evidenced above, seroma formation
was reduced somehow by sutures
placed underneath the skin flap;
however, it remains a significant
complication. (13, 20) In this
randomized study, we ligated all tissue
just below the axillary vein and below
the thoracodorsal vein in an attempt to
seal off the axillary lymph vessels, which
were believed to be the source of the
lymph leakage. Additionally, suturing the
anterior edge of the latissimus dorsi
muscle to the chest wall could collapse
the lateral dead space between the
muscle and the chest wall, therefore
avoiding burying the drain tube in the
Kasr el-aini journal of surgery Volume 14, No.2, May 2013
8
dead space, which sometimes occurs
and results in the obstruction of the
tube. The use of the sutures in
conjunction with negative pressure
drains act in concert to obliterate the
dead space as we observed. With the
combination of those techniques, the
incidence of seroma formation was
reduced to a very low level 3.6% in the
study group. The intensity and duration
of the exudates were reduced
significantly in the initial 3 postoperative
days, and the length of drainage was
significantly shortened compared with
that in the control group (group 2).
Although time to operate was slightly
longer than that in group 2, the
difference became modest as operating
skills improved, and no additional
complications such as dysfunction of
shoulder movement were observed.
Finally, it is important to note that the 3
different surgical interventions—sewing
down the skin flaps, ligating lymphatics,
and suturing the latissimus dorsi
reduced the incidence of seroma
significantly. However, it is impossible to
determine which of these, or which
combination of these, actually produced
the observed effect. What is more, in
our experience in the study, the seroma
formed after the altered interventions,
although occurring in only 3.6 %of
cases, was more difficult to manage
than that formed after conventional
procedures. Further studies are needed
to determine the pathogenesis of
seroma formation and the optimal way
to reduce it.
Conclusion
Ligating transected axillary lymph
channels and obliterating the
subcutaneous cavity can significantly
reduce the incidence of seroma
formation after modified radical
mastectomy without increasing
morbidity as was observed in this
randomized clinical study. The daily
drain output in the initial 3 postoperative
days was significantly reduced and the
length of drainage was reduced
considerably compared with the control
arm (P<0 .05). This operating technique
may thus be recommended as an
effective approach to reducing incidence
of seroma formation after modified
radical mastectomy.
References:
1- Gonzalez EA, Saltzstein EC, Riedner
CS, Nelson BK:Seroma formation
following breast cancer surgery.Breast
J 2003, 9:385-388.
2- Pogson CJ, Adwani A, Ebbs
SR:Seroma following breast cancer
surgery.Eur J SurgOncol 2003, 29:711-
717
3- Barwell J, Campbell L, Watkins RM,
Teasdale C: How long should suction
drains stay in after breast surgery with
axillary dissection? Ann R
CollSurgEngl 1997, 79:435-437.
4- Woodworth PA, McBoyle MF,
Helmer SD, Beamer RL: Seroma
formation after breast cancer surgery:
Kasr el-aini journal of surgery Volume 14, No.2, May 2013
9
incidence and predicting
factors.AmSurg 2000, 66:444-450.
5- Brayant M, Baum M:Postoperative
seroma following mastectomy and
axillary dissection. Br J Surg 1987,
74:1187.
6- Budd DC, Cochran RC, Sturtz DL,
Fouty WJ:Surgical morbidity after
mastectomy operations. Am J Surg
1978, 135:218-220.
7- Aitkin DR, Minton JP: Complications
associated with mastectomy.SurgClin
North Am 1983, 63:1331-1352.
8- Dawson I, Stam L, Heslinga JM,
Kalsbeck HL:Effect of shoulder
immobilization on wound seroma and
shoulder dysfunction following
modified radical mastectomy: a
randomized prospective clinical trial.Br
J Surg 1989, 76:311-312.
9- Kuroi K, Shimozuma K, Taguchi T, et al.
Evidence-based risk factors for seroma
formation in breast surgery. Jpn J Clin
Oncol. 2006; 36:197–206.
10- Agrawal A; Ayantunde AA; Cheung KL
.Concepts of seroma formation and
prevention in breast cancer surgery Aust NZ
J Surg, 76 (2006), pp. 1088–1095
11-Watt-Boolsen S, Nielsen VB, Jensen J et
al. Postmastectomy seroma .A study of the
nature and origin of seroma after
mastectomy.Danish Med Bull, 36 (1989),
pp. 487–489.
12- Bonnema J, Ligtenstein DA, Wiggers Tet
al. The composition of serous fluid after
axillary dissection.Eur J Surg, 165 (1999),
pp. 9–13.
13- Schuijtvlot M, Sahu AK, Cawthorn SJ.A
prospective audit of the use of a buttress
suture to reduce seroma formation
following axillary node dissection without
drains.Breast, 11 (2002), pp. 94–96
14- Coveney EC, O'Dwyer PJ, Geraghty JG
et al. Effect of closing dead space on
seroma formation after mastectomy—a
prospective randomised clinical trial.Eur J
SurgOncol, 19 (1993), pp. 143–146
15- Classe JM, Berchery D, Campion L et al.
Randomized clinical trial comparing
axillary padding with closed suction
drainage for the axillary wound after
lymphadenectomy for breast cancer.Br J
Surg, 93 (2006), pp. 820–824.
16- Kuroi K, Shimozuma K, Taguchi T et al.
Pathophysiology of seroma in breast
cancer.Breast Cancer, 12 (2005), pp. 288–
293.
17- Halsted WS.Developments in the skin
grafting operations for cancer of the breast
JAMA, 60 (1913), pp. 416–418.
18- McCaul JA, Aslaam A, Spooner RJ et al.
Etiology of seroma formation in patients
undergoing surgery for breast
cancer.Breast, 9 (2000), pp. 144–148.
19- Chilson TR, Chan FD, Lonser RR et al.
Seroma prevention after modified radical
mastectomy. Am Surg, 58 (1992), pp. 750–
754.
20- O'Dwyer PJ, O'Higgins NJ, James
AG.Effect of closing dead space on
incidence of seroma after mastectomy. Surg
Gynecol Obstet, 172 (1991), pp. 55–56.

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Impact of dead space closure and lymph vessel ligation during MRM on Post-operative seroma formation: A two institutional randomized study.

  • 1. Kasr el-aini journal of surgery Volume 14, No.2, May 2013 1 Impact of dead space closure and lymph vessel ligation during MRM on Post-operative seroma formation: A two institutional randomized study. Hany F. Habashy MD.a , Ihab S. Fayek MD b , Mohamed I.Abd el aziz MD a a:Department of Surgery-Fayoum University Hospital-El Fayoum , Egypt b:Department of Surgical Oncology –National Cancer Institute – Cairo University ,Egypt Abstract Background: Seroma formation is the most common post-operative (PO)sequela among female patients undergoing modified radical mastectomy (MRM) for breast cancer; reducing the volume and timing of formation and drainage remains a goal always sought by breast surgeons. Methods: 110 breast cancer female patients were selected randomly (T2) and divided into two groups. Group 1(no=56) was operated on by using the new surgical technique by ligating all the tissues connecting the axillary vein bundle to the specimen, to suture anterior edge of latissimuss dorsi muscle to the chest wall and to suture the skin flaps to the underlying muscle by subcutaneous sutures in rows, group 2 (no=54)was operated on by the conventional technique. Results: the drainage volume in the first 3 days for patients in group 1 was significantly less than that in group 2 (P value less than 0.05) .the duration of drainage in group 1 was shorter than in group 2 (P value less than 0.05) .the seroma formation in group1 (3.6%) which is significantly less than that in group2 (16.7%) (P value less than 0.05). Conclusion: Dead space closure and lymph vessel ligation during MRM significantly reduces the incidence, volume, and duration needed for drainage of PO seroma following MRM. KEYWORDS: Seroma; Modified radical mastectomy; Breast cancer.
  • 2. Kasr el-aini journal of surgery Volume 14, No.2, May 2013 2 Introduction Seroma is defined as a serous fluid collection that develops under the skin flaps following mastectomy or in the axillary dead space after axillary dissection.(1) Seroma formation is the most frequent post-operative complication after breast cancer surgery. It occurs in most patients after mastectomy and is now increasingly being considered side effect of surgery rather than a complication however, all patients are not clinically symptomatic. (2, 9) Incidence of seroma formation after breast surgery varies between 2.5% and 51%. (3-5) Although seroma is not life threatening, it can lead to significant morbidity (e.g. flap necrosis, wound dehiscence, predisposes to sepsis, prolonged recovery period, multiple physician visits) and may delay adjuvant therapy. (6,7) Fluid collection is ideally managed by repeated needle aspiration to seal the skin flaps against the chest wall. The aetiology of seroma formation is not yet quite clear.(10) Several factors have been investigated as the cause of seroma formation these include age, duration of wound drainage, use of pressure garment, postoperative arm activity, intraoperative lymphatic channel ligation was done or not, preoperative chemotherapy, and use of electro cautery. (3, 8, 19) Studies on the composition of the fluid collected from postmastectomy drainage suggest an inflammatory origin, while others have hypothesized that seroma is most likely to originate from lymph. (11, 12) The optimal way to reduce incidence of seroma formation is unknown. Some evidence exists that placing sutures from the skin flaps to the underlying muscles can obliterate the dead space, thus reducing the seroma formation. (13, 14, 15) This study aiming to reduce the incidence of seroma formation by using an altered surgical technique, is a randomized trial based on the hypothesis that axillary lymph leakage and dead space are major important contributors to seroma formation,and that surgical techniques applied to seal off axillary interrupted lymph vessels and to obliterate the dead space might reduce the incidence of this complication. Methods Patients and surgical technique This study was conducted in the department of surgery at Fayoum university hospital and the National cancer institute - Cairo University.
  • 3. Kasr el-aini journal of surgery Volume 14, No.2, May 2013 3 Figure 1: ligation of lymphatic vessels Figure2 (a): suturing the anterior border of LDM to chest wall. Figure 2(b): closure of dead space between LDM and chest wall. Figure3: suturing the skin flap to underlying muscle in rows.
  • 4. Kasr el-aini journal of surgery Volume 14, No.2, May 2013 4 From May 2011 to March 2012, 110 patients with late T2 breast cancer who were scheduled as candidates for elective unilateralmodified radical mastectomy without immediate reconstruction were randomly preoperatively divided into 2 groups, group1 and group 2, for which mastectomies were performed using different surgical techniques. Surgery for the 2 groups was performed by the same surgical team. Axillary dissection was done up to level III in all cases. In group 1, in an attempt to seal off axillary lymphatic vessels and obliterate the dead space, we used the technique of lymph vessel ligation and suturing skin flaps to the underlying muscle, and all the tissues connecting axillary vein to the specimen were ligated. Once the anterior surface of the axillary vein was exposed, sharp rather than blunt dissection was performed, and the bleeding vessels and all of the fat pads were ligated just below the axillary vein with 3-0 vicryl sutures. (Fig.1) Next, the thoracodorsal vein, with its accompanying artery and nerve comprising the thoracodorsal neurovascular bundle, was identified, and the small vascular branch along with all the fat pad coursing toward the axillary contents was carefully ligated. Then, the long thoracic nerve, usually seen lying against chest wall, was identified and preserved. The dissection was then completed by freeing the inferior axillary contents from the chest wall, followed by insertion of a suction drain in the axilla. The anterior edge of latissimus dorsi was identified by electrocautery and then stitched to the serratus anterior muscle anterior to the long thoracic nerve which was preserved after removal of the specimen.(Fig.2) The skin flaps were fixed by subcutaneous sutures to the underlying musclebyapproximately 15 vicryl sutures at periodic intervals, placed from the skin flap to the underlying muscle, if moderate to severe dimpling was observed, the stitch was removed and replaced.(Fig.3) In group 2, the control group, the procedure was generally performed in a similar fashion, but axillary dissection was carried out bluntly instead of sharply; the bleeding vessel branches linking axillary vein bundle or thoracodorsal bundle to the specimen were freed and ligated, and the accompanying fat pad was freed bluntly or cut with electrocautery or scalpel but was not ligated. The anterior edge of the latissimus dorsi muscle was not fixed to the chest wall. Skin flaps was not fixed to underlying muscle.
  • 5. Kasr el-aini journal of surgery Volume 14, No.2, May 2013 5 In both groups, all resected specimens were examined and the lymph nodes dissected, counted, and assessed histopathologically for metastases. External compression dressing was provided over the axilla for the first 3 postoperative days and the patients were encouraged to do active and passive shoulder exercises starting from day one postoperative. The drain 18 Fr.double arms redivac was inserted. The bottle was changed every 24 hours and the daily drain output was measured and recorded. Drain obstruction was recorded if it occurred an adjustment was needed. The drain was removed when the output was less than 50 mL in 24 hours regardless of time elapsed after surgery. Each patient was seen 1 week after discharge and weekly thereafter or more frequently as needed. The daily drain output in the first 3 postoperative days was measured in each group and compared between the 2groups. The length of drainage in both groups was calculated and compared. The operative time, defined as the time from onset of surgery to the end of wound closure, was calculated. The operative time was compared between the 2 groups. The associated morbidity in the form of seroma formation, hematoma, flap necrosis, and wound infection was recorded. Seroma was defined as a fluid collection via palpation on clinical examination. A blood collection under the skin, removable by aspiration, was considered as hematoma. Flap necrosis was defined as any visible necrosis along the edge of the wound. Results: In all, 110 breast cancer patients were included into the study with 56in group 1 and 54 in group 2. The two groups were not statistically different regarding age, weight, number of axillary lymph nodes resected, and number of cases with positive nodes indicating the success of randomization. (Table 1) The mean time of surgery was about 18 minutes longer for group 1 than that for group 2 (103.41 minutes vs. 85.63 minutes). No patients in either groups received intraoperative blood transfusion. 3 patients had the drain obstructed in group 2, whereas none had the problem in group 1 (P<0.05). The daily drain output in the initial 3 postoperative days in group 1 was significantly less than that in group 2 (P<0.05). Drains were removed earlier in group 1 than those in group 2 (P< 0.05). The incidence of seroma formation for group 1 (3.6%) was significantly less than that for group 2 (16.7%) (P< 0.05). A small hematoma, probably due to the penetration of a suture into a vessel in the muscle tissue, was observed in the first postoperative day in 1 patient in group 1, but no significant difference was found between the 2 groups in terms of hematoma, wound infection, or flap necrosis. No other complications were seen for all patients in the study.(Table 2)
  • 6. Kasr el-aini journal of surgery Volume 14, No.2, May 2013 6 Moreover, as is shown inTable 2, the median drainage volume decreased very quickly in group 1 in the initial 3 postoperative days and the individual drainage volume in day 3 was no more than 50 mL/24 h for all patients in group 1; in contrast, the median drainage volume did not decrease so rapidly in group 2, and the individual drainage volume was still greater than 100 mL/24 h after 3 postoperative days in some patients. Table 1: Patients characteristics and surgical intervention. NS= No Statistical Significance. Table 2: Comparison between operating time, drainage volume and complications NS= No Statistical Significance. variables Group1(no=56) Group 2 no=(54) P Value Mean age (year) 50.41 51.30 NS Mean weight (Kg) 71.43 68.17 NS Mean No. of lymph nodes resected 27.34 28.15 NS Variables Group 1(no=56) Group 2 no=(54) P value Operative time (min) 103.41 85.63 Less than 0.05 Drain volume day 1 (ml) 153.65 241.81 Less than 0.05 Drain volume day 2(ml) 78.24 156.32 Less than 0.05 Drain volume day 3(ml) 54.47 122.98 Less than 0.05 Time of drainage(days)removed when less than 50cc/day for 2 successive days 5.81 11.07 Less than 0.05 Obstruction of drain (%) 0 5.36 Less than 0.05 Hematoma (%) 1.8 0 NS Wound infection (%) 0 0 NS Flap necrosis (%) 0 0 NS Seroma formation (%) 3.6 16.7 Less than 0.05
  • 7. Kasr el-aini journal of surgery Volume 14, No.2, May 2013 7 Discussion: The pathogenesis of seroma has not been fully understood. (16) However, several studies have indicated that it may originate from lymph. (11, 12) McCaul et al., 2000 investigated the hematologic and biochemical composition of the drain fluid on days 3 and 4 after mastectomy and axillary clearance and found that it was most similar to inflammatory exudates, although lymph and serum undoubtedly made a small contribution.(18)Then the size of the dead space after wound closure and handling tissues during the operation may have been factors that significantly affect fluid collection postoperatively. McCaul et al., 2000 pointed out that the elements of surgical technique may well be responsible for the observed intersurgeon variation in frequency of postmastectomy seroma formation. (18) Historically, Halsted suggested obliteration of the dead space particularly in the axilla to facilitate wound healing.(17) More recently, Chilson et al., 1992 noted that there was a decrease in the incidence of post- mastectomy seroma in their institution and the number of postoperative clinic visits for aspiration of seroma when flap tacking was performed.(19) O'Dwyer et al., 1991 reported that closing the dead space by suturing skin flaps to the underlying muscle combined with early drain removal correlated with a low incidence of seroma formation after mastectomy.(20) In a prospective randomized clinical trial, Coveney et al., 1993 showed significantly less drainage in the group of patients in whom skin flaps were sutured down to the chest wall muscles compared with those with just conventional skin flap closure.(14) In a more recent prospective study, Schuijtvlot et al., 2002 compared the effect of buttress suture with non- buttress suture after breast-conserving surgery and axillary dissection. They showed that the use of buttress suture reduced seroma formation. (13) Following axillary dissection without axillary drain Classe et al., 2006 showed that axillary padding using axillary aponeurosis and local muscle flaps to fill the dead space could be used as an alternative to closed vacuum suction after axillary lymphadenectomy with early discharge. (15) As evidenced above, seroma formation was reduced somehow by sutures placed underneath the skin flap; however, it remains a significant complication. (13, 20) In this randomized study, we ligated all tissue just below the axillary vein and below the thoracodorsal vein in an attempt to seal off the axillary lymph vessels, which were believed to be the source of the lymph leakage. Additionally, suturing the anterior edge of the latissimus dorsi muscle to the chest wall could collapse the lateral dead space between the muscle and the chest wall, therefore avoiding burying the drain tube in the
  • 8. Kasr el-aini journal of surgery Volume 14, No.2, May 2013 8 dead space, which sometimes occurs and results in the obstruction of the tube. The use of the sutures in conjunction with negative pressure drains act in concert to obliterate the dead space as we observed. With the combination of those techniques, the incidence of seroma formation was reduced to a very low level 3.6% in the study group. The intensity and duration of the exudates were reduced significantly in the initial 3 postoperative days, and the length of drainage was significantly shortened compared with that in the control group (group 2). Although time to operate was slightly longer than that in group 2, the difference became modest as operating skills improved, and no additional complications such as dysfunction of shoulder movement were observed. Finally, it is important to note that the 3 different surgical interventions—sewing down the skin flaps, ligating lymphatics, and suturing the latissimus dorsi reduced the incidence of seroma significantly. However, it is impossible to determine which of these, or which combination of these, actually produced the observed effect. What is more, in our experience in the study, the seroma formed after the altered interventions, although occurring in only 3.6 %of cases, was more difficult to manage than that formed after conventional procedures. Further studies are needed to determine the pathogenesis of seroma formation and the optimal way to reduce it. Conclusion Ligating transected axillary lymph channels and obliterating the subcutaneous cavity can significantly reduce the incidence of seroma formation after modified radical mastectomy without increasing morbidity as was observed in this randomized clinical study. The daily drain output in the initial 3 postoperative days was significantly reduced and the length of drainage was reduced considerably compared with the control arm (P<0 .05). This operating technique may thus be recommended as an effective approach to reducing incidence of seroma formation after modified radical mastectomy. References: 1- Gonzalez EA, Saltzstein EC, Riedner CS, Nelson BK:Seroma formation following breast cancer surgery.Breast J 2003, 9:385-388. 2- Pogson CJ, Adwani A, Ebbs SR:Seroma following breast cancer surgery.Eur J SurgOncol 2003, 29:711- 717 3- Barwell J, Campbell L, Watkins RM, Teasdale C: How long should suction drains stay in after breast surgery with axillary dissection? Ann R CollSurgEngl 1997, 79:435-437. 4- Woodworth PA, McBoyle MF, Helmer SD, Beamer RL: Seroma formation after breast cancer surgery:
  • 9. Kasr el-aini journal of surgery Volume 14, No.2, May 2013 9 incidence and predicting factors.AmSurg 2000, 66:444-450. 5- Brayant M, Baum M:Postoperative seroma following mastectomy and axillary dissection. Br J Surg 1987, 74:1187. 6- Budd DC, Cochran RC, Sturtz DL, Fouty WJ:Surgical morbidity after mastectomy operations. Am J Surg 1978, 135:218-220. 7- Aitkin DR, Minton JP: Complications associated with mastectomy.SurgClin North Am 1983, 63:1331-1352. 8- Dawson I, Stam L, Heslinga JM, Kalsbeck HL:Effect of shoulder immobilization on wound seroma and shoulder dysfunction following modified radical mastectomy: a randomized prospective clinical trial.Br J Surg 1989, 76:311-312. 9- Kuroi K, Shimozuma K, Taguchi T, et al. Evidence-based risk factors for seroma formation in breast surgery. Jpn J Clin Oncol. 2006; 36:197–206. 10- Agrawal A; Ayantunde AA; Cheung KL .Concepts of seroma formation and prevention in breast cancer surgery Aust NZ J Surg, 76 (2006), pp. 1088–1095 11-Watt-Boolsen S, Nielsen VB, Jensen J et al. Postmastectomy seroma .A study of the nature and origin of seroma after mastectomy.Danish Med Bull, 36 (1989), pp. 487–489. 12- Bonnema J, Ligtenstein DA, Wiggers Tet al. The composition of serous fluid after axillary dissection.Eur J Surg, 165 (1999), pp. 9–13. 13- Schuijtvlot M, Sahu AK, Cawthorn SJ.A prospective audit of the use of a buttress suture to reduce seroma formation following axillary node dissection without drains.Breast, 11 (2002), pp. 94–96 14- Coveney EC, O'Dwyer PJ, Geraghty JG et al. Effect of closing dead space on seroma formation after mastectomy—a prospective randomised clinical trial.Eur J SurgOncol, 19 (1993), pp. 143–146 15- Classe JM, Berchery D, Campion L et al. Randomized clinical trial comparing axillary padding with closed suction drainage for the axillary wound after lymphadenectomy for breast cancer.Br J Surg, 93 (2006), pp. 820–824. 16- Kuroi K, Shimozuma K, Taguchi T et al. Pathophysiology of seroma in breast cancer.Breast Cancer, 12 (2005), pp. 288– 293. 17- Halsted WS.Developments in the skin grafting operations for cancer of the breast JAMA, 60 (1913), pp. 416–418. 18- McCaul JA, Aslaam A, Spooner RJ et al. Etiology of seroma formation in patients undergoing surgery for breast cancer.Breast, 9 (2000), pp. 144–148. 19- Chilson TR, Chan FD, Lonser RR et al. Seroma prevention after modified radical mastectomy. Am Surg, 58 (1992), pp. 750– 754. 20- O'Dwyer PJ, O'Higgins NJ, James AG.Effect of closing dead space on incidence of seroma after mastectomy. Surg Gynecol Obstet, 172 (1991), pp. 55–56.