Article Abstract

Evaluation the effect of preserving intercostobrachial nerve in axillary dissection for breast cancer patient

Authors: Prakasit Chirappapha, Methas Arunnart, Panuwat Lertsithichai, Chairat Supsamutchai, Thongchai Sukarayothin, Monchai Leesombatpaiboon

Abstract

Background: The Intercostobrachial nerve (ICBN) is responsible for sensory function in the axillar and upper arm. The majority of surgeons routinely sacrifice the ICBN during axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) because of technical difficulties. Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess the effects of the preservation or division of the ICBN on the incidence of post-operative sensory disturbance, health-related quality of life (HRQOL), and the physical functions of the upper limbs.
Methods: We performed a randomized double-blind trial comparing the incidence of sensory disturbance, HRQOL and physical functions of upper limbs in the preservation and the removal of the ICBN. Clinicians performed sensory evaluation at two weeks and three months after surgery. The sensory evaluation included questionnaires (subjective evaluation) and physical examination (objective evaluation) to evaluate sensory disturbance of the upper arm. HRQOL and physical function of upper limbs was accessed before surgery and at three months after surgery, using Short Form-36 and QuickDASH questionnaires, both in Thai language versions.
Results: At the end of the surgical procedures there were 15 patients in the preserved group (group P) and 28 patients in the non-preserved group (group N). In as-treated analysis, there was no significant difference between the groups in pain, sensory loss, physical examination of touch and pinprick sensation, and areas of sensory dullness. HRQOL found that the reported pain in P group was higher than N group in both intention-to-treat and as-treated analysis. In the QuickDASH scores of physical functions of the upper limbs there was a significant difference, 9.1 in group P and 20.5 in group N (P=0.013).
Conclusions: ICBN preservation provides no benefit to improving sensation, but there are benefits in HRQOL and physical functions of upper limbs at three months after surgery.

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