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The Blood Supply to the Nipple-Areola Complex of the Human Mammary Gland

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The main sources of blood supply to the breast are described in textbooks as the internal thoracic, lateral thoracic, and posterior intercostal arteries. Textbooks, however, do not describe the contribution of each to the nippie-areoia complex (NAC), nor do they describe the pattern of supply.

To investigate this issue, 15 female cadavers were injected intraarterially with latex, and dissections were performed on 27 breasts.

The results were as follows:

  • In all the dissected breasts (27/27), the NAC received at least one or more vessels from the internal thoracic artery.

  • In 20 of 27 dissected breasts, the NAC received vessels from the anterior intercostal arteries,

  • In 19 of the 27 dissected breasts, the NAC received vessels from the lateral thoracic artery.

    Direct branches from the axillary artery supplied the NAC in 2 of the 27 breasts.

  • The posterior intercostal arteries supplied the NAC in only 1 of the 27 dissected breasts.

An underlying segmental pattern could be detected that can be explained by the embryological development. According to this study, the internal thoracic arteries are to be considered the main and constantly reliable source of blood supply to the NAC.

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Correspondence to Petrus V. van Deventer M.B.Ch.B., Hons.B.Sc., M.Med.Sc., M.Med.Plast. & Rekons..

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van Deventer, P.V. The Blood Supply to the Nipple-Areola Complex of the Human Mammary Gland. Aesth Plast Surg 28, 393–398 (2004).

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