Background: Plastic surgeons routinely submit breast capsulectomy surgical specimens for pathologic evaluation. However, clinically significant findings are rarely identified. In an effort to reduce health care costs and the unnecessary use of hospital resources, this study reviews the efficacy of submitting breast capsulectomy specimens for pathologic examination.
Methods: All patients from The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, during the years 2000 to 2008 who underwent breast capsulectomy were selected for by Current Procedural Terminology codes 19370 and 19371 (open periprosthetic capsulotomy and periprosthetic capsulectomy of the breast, respectively). A total of 264 patients qualified for the study, and their pathology reports were reviewed.
Results: The pathology reports of 434 capsulectomy specimens in 264 patients revealed benign capsules in 206 patients (78.0 percent). Additional findings, including inflammation, calcification, granuloma, and necrosis, were identified in an additional 57 patients (21.6 percent). One patient (0.4 percent) had carcinoma identified within a breast capsule. This was a patient known preoperatively to have recurrent invasive ductal carcinoma that extended into the surrounding capsule. Therefore, none of the 264 capsulectomy specimens revealed new neoplasms, occult disease, or other clinically significant findings that changed the patient's postoperative treatment.
Conclusions: No clinically significant findings were identified in this review of breast capsulectomy specimens in 264 patients. However, the cost for such pathologic examinations was substantial. In an effort to reduce health costs and the unnecessary use of hospital resources, breast capsulectomy specimens may not necessarily need to be routinely submitted for surgical pathologic evaluation.