Analysis of TNF-α and interleukin-6 in seroma of patients undergoing mastectomy with or without flap fixation: is there a predictive value for seroma formation and its sequelae?

J. van Bastelaar*, R. Granzier, L. M. van Roozendaal, S. M. J. van Kuijk, A. Lerut, G. Beets, M. Hadfoune, S. Olde Damink, Y. L. J. Vissers

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Seroma formation is a common complication after mastectomy. Flap fixation has the potential to prevent seroma formation, but identifying patients that are at risk of developing seroma, remains challenging. The aim of this study was to assess the association between pro-inflammatory cytokines in seroma fluid one day after surgery and seroma formation and it sequelae.

Methods: Patients undergoing mastectomy were randomized into one of three groups: no flap fixation, flap fixation using sutures or flap fixation using tissue glue. Seroma samples from 40 consecutive patients undergoing mastectomy were collected on the first postoperative day for analysis of interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha. Seroma formation and its sequelae were assessed in the outpatient clinic ten days, six weeks and three months after surgery.

Results: TNF-alpha concentrations were not detectable in the seroma samples of any of the 40 patients. BMI (p = 0.001) and weight of the resected surgical specimen (p = 0.003) were associated with higher IL-6 levels in seroma on the first postoperative day after mastectomy. A higher seroma concentration of IL-6 was associated with significantly fewer patients with clinical seroma formation three months after surgery (p = 0.027).

Conclusion: IL-6 is associated with clinical seroma formation three months after surgery. There is however no evident association between IL-6 and complications related to seroma formation. Higher IL-6 levels are predictive of less long-term seroma formation. Application of flap fixation does not seem to influence the level of IL-6.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-41
Number of pages6
JournalSurgical Oncology
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Mastectomy
  • Seroma formation
  • Cytokines
  • IL-6
  • TNF-alpha

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