Article of interest: Efficacy of harmonic focus scalpel in seroma prevention after axillary clearance.

Selvendran S, Cheluvappa R, Tr Ng VK, Yarrow S, Pang TC, Segara D, Soon P. Efficacy of harmonic focus scalpel in seroma prevention after axillary clearance. Int J Surg. 2016 Jun;30:116-20. doi: 10.1016/j.ijsu.2016.04.041.

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“To summarise the salient findings of this retrospective study; we did not find a lower rate of seroma formation (as previously reported) when HF was used in ALND, instead of CD. Instead, we found increased seroma volume in patients after mastectomy and ALND compared to WLE and ALND or ALND alone. Our study had the second highest number of subjects examining HF and CD with respect to ALND.” (p. 119)

Results: Of 94 patients, 42 were in the HFG and 52 in the CDG. Two day median seroma volume was 205 ml (IQR 95-265) for HF, and 227.5 ml (IQR 149-385) for CD. The total median seroma output was 270 ml (IQR 160-478) for HF, and 385 ml (IQR 220-558) for CD. No statistically significant differences between HFG and CDG were identified in these data, as well as patient demographics, operative time, and complication rates. Duration of surgery >2.5 h increased seroma formation (p < 0.001). Mastectomy and ALND increased seroma formation compared to wide local excision (WLE) and ALND (p < 0.05). Nodal involvement, number of lymph nodes resected, and extra nodal spread did not influence seroma formation.

Discussion(and conclusion): In our hands, HF use was not superior to CD in limiting seroma formation in ALND for breast cancer. Increased seroma formation in surgeries >2.5 h in duration is commensurate with surgeries involving mastectomy and ALND (>2.5 h in our study), which entails greater and sustained tissue and lymphovascular trauma.

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