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Trends in Unilateral Breast Reconstruction and Management of the Contralateral Breast: The Emory Experience.

Losken, Albert M.D.; Carlson, Grant W. M.D.; Bostwick, John III M.D.; Jones, Glyn E. M.D., John H. Culbertson, M.D.; Schoemann, Mark B.A.
Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery: July 2002

: Recent trends in breast reconstruction have transitioned toward the skin-sparing type of mastectomy and immediate reconstruction using autologous tissue. This study was designed to document trends in the management of patients with unilateral breast cancer and to determine how they influence management of the contralateral breast.

All patients who underwent unilateral breast reconstruction at Emory University Hospitals from January of 1975 to December of 1999 were reviewed. The cohort was stratified by timing of reconstruction (immediate versus delayed), method of reconstruction, and mastectomy type (skin-sparing versus non-skin-sparing). The methods of reconstruction included implant, latissimus dorsi flap, and transverse rectus abdominis musculocutaneous (TRAM) flap. Contralateral procedures to achieve symmetry included augmentation, mastopexy, augmentation/mastopexy, and reduction. A total of 1394 patients were evaluated, including 689 delayed and 705 immediate reconstructions. Sixty-seven percent of delayed-reconstruction patients (462 of 689) had a symmetry procedure performed on the opposite breast, compared with 22 percent for the immediate-reconstruction patients (155 of 705) (p <= 0.001). The percentage of times a contralateral procedure was performed was highest for implant reconstructions (89 percent delayed and 57 percent immediate) and lowest for TRAM flap reconstructions (59 percent delayed and 18 percent immediate). Augmentation mammaplasty was the most common symmetry procedure for implant reconstruction (41 percent), whereas reduction was the most common procedure for autologous tissue reconstruction (57 percent). Immediate unilateral breast reconstructions were stratified into non-skin-sparing mastectomy (n = 205) and skin-sparing mastectomy (n = 500). Thirty-four percent of patients with a non-skinsparing mastectomy defect (70 of 205) underwent a contralateral breast procedure, compared with 17 percent of patients with a skin-sparing mastectomy defect (85 of 500) (p = 0.001). The percentage of times a contralateral procedure was performed in immediate reconstruction, stratified by mastectomy and reconstruction type, was only significant for TRAM flap reconstructions (25 versus 11 percent).

Trends in the management of unilateral breast cancer from delayed to immediate reconstruction and from implants to autologous tissue have reduced the incidence of contralateral symmetry procedures. Reduction mammaplasty is the most common symmetry procedure used for autologous tissue reconstruction, with augmentation predominating when implants are used. The type of mastectomy also effects the management of the opposite breast, with skin-sparing mastectomy further reducing the incidence of contralateral procedures in immediate TRAM flap reconstruction, compared with non-skin-sparing mastectomy.

(C)2002American Society of Plastic Surgeons