Background: To plan abdominal perforator-based microsurgical breast reconstruction, duplex ultrasound is often employed to preoperatively identify the location of abdominal wall perforating vessels. Recently, several groups have published the use of computed tomography angiography for preoperative planning in perforator flap breast reconstruction. The purpose of this study was to compare the accuracy of computed tomography angiography in locating clinically useful abdominal wall perforators with that of duplex ultrasound.
Methods: A prospective study was conducted of 22 consecutive patients undergoing 30 abdomen-based microsurgical breast reconstructions using both preoperative computed tomography angiography and duplex ultrasound. Perforator data were obtained with both computed tomography angiography and ultrasound. The two largest perforators were chosen per abdominal side for comparison between studies. In addition, the locations of perforators were confirmed at surgery.
Results: Computed tomography angiography preoperatively identified 83 of the largest perforators, while only 55 of these large perforators (66.3 percent) were preoperatively identified on ultrasound. No superficial inferior epigastric arteries were identified by ultrasound. However, in all eight breast reconstructions performed with the superficial inferior epigastric system, the superficial inferior epigastric arteries were identified preoperatively as adequate size for microsurgical transfers, with an average diameter of 1.6 mm.
Conclusions: There are many advantages to preoperative computed tomography angiography for planning abdominal perforator-based microsurgical breast reconstruction, including accurate identification of perforating vessels, the underlying branching pattern of the deep inferior epigastric artery, and the presence of the superficial inferior epigastric vessels. This study demonstrates the superiority of computed tomography angiography over duplex ultrasound as a tool for preoperative planning of perforator-based breast reconstruction.