Background: Human acellular dermal matrices have gained increasing use in immediate expander-based breast reconstruction. However, some studies suggest that these grafts may be associated with a higher incidence of infection and seroma. To evaluate complication rates after matrix-based breast reconstruction, the authors conducted a prospective, multicenter, cohort study to evaluate a sterile human acellular dermal matrix in immediate expander-based breast reconstruction, specifically, to determine whether it offered a more favorable risk profile with respect to infection and seroma. A secondary purpose was to determine whether the sterilization process affects graft incorporation.
Methods: The authors performed 65 consecutive tissue expander-based breast reconstructions in a cohort of patients over a 1-year period using a single protocol. Sterile human matrix was used in all cases. The patients were evaluated for early complications (infection, seroma) and graft incorporation at the time of exchange or definitive reconstruction. Biopsies were performed in the first 20 reconstructions to provide histologic correlation of graft incorporation.
Results: Complications occurred in three breasts (4.6 percent), including one case of cellulitis (1.5 percent) and two cases of partial mastectomy flap necrosis (3.0 percent) that required débridement. There were no seromas or explantations. The grafts were incorporated in all cases and verified histologically in the first 20 biopsies.
Conclusions: Sterile human acellular dermal matrix can offer reliable matrix incorporation and a low complication rate. Sterilization does not negatively impact incorporation of the graft. The infection and seroma rates in this prospective study compare favorably to those in previous studies with nonsterilized (aseptic) acellular dermal matrix.