In patients with early-stage breast cancer who are scheduled to undergo mastectomy and desire breast reconstruction, the optimal timing of reconstruction depends on whether postmastectomy radiation therapy will be needed. Immediate reconstruction offers the best aesthetic outcomes if postmastectomy radiation therapy is not needed, but if postmastectomy radiation therapy is required, delayed reconstruction is preferable to avoid potential aesthetic and radiation-delivery problems. Unfortunately, the need for postmastectomy radiation therapy cannot be reliably determined until review of the permanent tissue sections. The authors recently implemented a two-stage approach, delayed-immediate breast reconstruction, to optimize reconstruction in patients at risk for requiring postmastectomy radiation therapy when the need for postmastectomy radiation therapy is not known at the time of mastectomy. Stage 1 consists of skin-sparing mastectomy with insertion of a completely filled textured saline tissue expander. After review of permanent sections, patients who did not require post-mastectomy radiation therapy underwent immediate reconstruction (stage 2) and patients who required postmastectomy radiation therapy completed postmastectomy radiation therapy and then underwent standard delayed reconstruction. In this study, the feasibility and outcomes of this approach were reviewed. Fourteen patients were treated with delayed-immediate reconstruction between May of 2002 and June of 2003. Twelve patients had unilateral reconstruction and two patients had bilateral reconstruction, for a total of 16 treated breasts. All patients completed stage 1. Tissue expanders were inserted subpectorally in 15 breasts and subcutaneously in one breast. The mean intraoperative expander fill volume was 475 cc (range, 250 to 750 cc). Three patients required postmastectomy radiation therapy and underwent delayed reconstruction. Eleven patients did not require postmastectomy radiation therapy. Nine patients had 11 breast reconstructions (stage 2), six with free transverse rectus abdominis musculocutaneous (TRAM) flaps, one with a superior gluteal artery perforator flap, and four with a latissimus dorsi flap plus an implant. The median interval between stages was 13 days (range, 11 to 22 days). Two patients who did not require postmastectomy radiation therapy have not yet had stage 2 reconstruction, one because she wished to delay reconstruction and the other because she required additional tissue expansion before permanent implant placement. Six complications occurred. The stage 1 complications involved two cases of mastectomy skin necrosis in patients who required post-mastectomy radiation therapy; one patient required removal of the subcutaneously placed expander before postmastectomy radiation therapy and the other patient had a subpectorally placed expander that only required local wound care. The stage 2 complications were a recipient-site seroma in a patient with a latissimus dorsi flap, a recipient-site hematoma in the patient with the superior gluteal artery perforator flap, and two arterial thromboses in patients with TRAM flaps. Both TRAM flaps were salvaged. Delayed-immediate reconstruction is technically feasible and safe in patients with early-stage breast cancer who may require postmastectomy radiation therapy. With this approach, patients who do not require postmastectomy radiation therapy can achieve aesthetic outcomes essentially the same as those with immediate reconstruction, and patients who require postmastectomy radiation therapy can avoid the aesthetic and radiation-delivery problems that can occur after an immediate breast reconstruction.
From the Departments of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Surgical Oncology, and Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Received for publication February 19, 2003; revised June 25, 2003.
Presented at the 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons, in Baltimore, Maryland, May 4 to 7, 2003.
Steven J. Kronowitz, M.D.
Department of Plastic Surgery, Box 443, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Houston, Texas 77030 firstname.lastname@example.org