Background. The seroma is one of the most common complications in the axillary lymph nodal dissection (different surgical approaches have been tried to reduce the seroma incidence). In our study we evaluate the outcome of patients using or not the ultrasonic scalpel (Harmonic scalpel) according to a standardized surgical technique.
Patients and Methods. From January 2011 to December 2015 120 patients underwent axillary dissection for breast cancer. Patients were divided in two groups: patients belonging to the first group underwent Harmonic scalpel dissection and patients belonging to the second group underwent classical dissection. Each group consisted of 60 patients. Quadrantectomy (QUAD) was performed in 54 patients, 66 women underwent mastectomy. In all patients axillary dissection included the I, II and III level. We compared two groups in terms of: time of surgery, hematoma, drainage volume, days of sealing drainage, seroma formation, number of post-seroma aspirations, upper limb lymphedema, wound infections, post-operative pain.
Results. Statistically significant results were obtained in terms of the total volume of the breast and axillary drainage in the two techniques.
There were no significant differences in the two samples in terms of operative time incidence of seroma, post-operative hematoma, wound infection, and lymphedema of the upper limb.
Conclusion. The small number of cases did not allow us to reach definitive conclusions. The use of Harmonic scalpel seems to show smaller incidence of seroma and reduction of the amount of both breast and axillary drainages. Further studies are needed to define the real advantage in terms of cost benefit of using these devices in the axillary surgery.
KEY WORDS: Harmonic scalpel - Axillary dissection - Breast Cancer - Volume drainage.