Aesthetic and reconstructive implant-based breast surgeries are some of the most frequently performed procedures by plastic surgeons. As such, prevention of implant infection is of high importance. However, there remains no criterion-standard protocol for irrigation of the breast pocket. This review focuses on current irrigation practices in implant-based breast surgery.
Four databases were used to search for all studies, including randomized controlled trials, retrospective cohort, and prospective cohort, containing original data related to the outcomes investigated in this study. Search terms included “breast,” “irrigation,” and “infection” in different combinations to isolate studies that focused on irrigation methods in both reconstructive and augmentation surgeries. Our selection criteria specifically concentrated on those studies that explicitly related irrigation procedures to rates of clinical infection and/or capsular contracture. Each was compiled into a table in chronological order to make comparisons between the differing irrigation methods.
Our search returned 239 full-text articles eligible for our review. Two independent screeners identified 9 studies that met the inclusion criteria. This included 1 prospective study and 8 retrospective studies. Two studies reported the use of chlorhexidine gluconate irrigation resulting in protection from clinical infection. Two studies investigated the role of triple antibiotic solution (TAS) either alone or combined with something else on risk of infection, and 3 reported TAS use on rates of capsular contracture. Two additional studies investigated the role of single antibiotic irrigation, concluding that some antibiotic regimen for irrigation may be sufficient in the breast pocket. Interestingly, one study noted the potential use of povidone-iodine (Betadine) as a method of irrigation.
These data suggest that chlorhexidine gluconate, Betadine, and TAS irrigation of the breast pocket can provide protection against infection and implant loss in both reconstruction and augmentation surgeries.