Expander-to-implant is the most common breast reconstruction procedure in the United States. Irrigation with triple antibiotic solution (TAS), as described by Adams et al in 2006, has become standard of care to lower bacterial bioburden. However, several alternative solutions have been implemented with the literature lacking a consensus regarding use (Plast Reconstr Surg. 2006;117:30-36).
We distributed a peer-reviewed survey among a cohort of American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS) members to assess pocket irrigation technique during implant-based reconstructive surgery. We then conducted a pilot in vitro study to determine antibacterial efficacy of the most preferred irrigation at preferred dwell times against select bacterial species linked to breast pocket contamination during reconstructive implant-based surgery.
The survey was distributed a total of 3 times to a random cohort of 2488 ASPS members in January 2018. During in vitro studies, pure cultures of common breast flora were exposed to TAS versus saline control at 1, 2, and 5 minutes in a simulated in vivo cavity. Viable plate counts were used to assess cell viability.
The response rate was above the ASPS survey average at 16% (n = 407). The population reflected a cross-section of practice types and experience levels. Triple antibiotic solution without Betadine was the favored irrigation at 41%, with 73% of its users preferring dwell times of 2 minutes or less. Over 30 distinct breast pocket irrigation solutions were identified. Bacteria added to the in vivo cavity survived a 2-minute dwell time with TAS as follows: 51% Staphylococcus epidermidis, 69% Escherichia coli, 88% Enterococcus faecalis, 88% Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and 98% Acinetobacter baumannii.
Our survey data demonstrate significant variability in practice and lack of consensus among ASPS members regarding antimicrobial irrigation during reconstructive breast surgery. Our in vitro data underscores the importance of relating clinical practices with laboratory studies of microorganisms potentially linked to breast pocket contamination and suggests that TAS requires either dwell times greater than 5 minutes and/or the inclusion of efficacious antimicrobial agents (eg, Betadine). This finding has the potential to impact antimicrobial pocket irrigation and technique during breast reconstruction.