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Effects of Silicone Expanders and Implants on Echocardiographic Image Quality after Breast Reconstruction

Pignatti, Marco M.D.; Mantovani, Francesca M.D.; Bertelli, Luca M.D.; Barbieri, Andrea M.D.; Pacchioni, Lucrezia M.D.; Loschi, Pietro M.D.; De Santis, Giorgio M.D.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: August 2013 - Volume 132 - Issue 2 - p 271–278
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e31829e7bec
Breast: Original Articles

Background: Use of silicone expanders and implants is the most common breast reconstruction technique after mastectomy. Postmastectomy patients often need echocardiographic monitoring of potential cardiotoxicity induced by cancer chemotherapy. The impairment of the echocardiographic acoustic window caused by silicone implants for breast augmentation has been reported. This study investigates whether the echocardiographic image quality was impaired in women reconstructed with silicone expanders and implants.

Methods: The records of 44 consecutive women who underwent echocardiographic follow-up after breast reconstruction with expanders and implants at the authors’ institution from January of 2000 to August of 2012 were reviewed. The population was divided into a study group (left or bilateral breast expanders/implants, n = 30) and a control group (right breast expanders/implants, n = 14). The impact of breast expanders/implants on echocardiographic image quality was tested (analysis of covariance model).

Results: Patients with a breast expander/implant (left or bilateral and right breast expanders/implants) were included. The mean volume of the breast devices was 353.2 ± 125.5 cc. The quality of the echocardiographic images was good or sufficient in the control group; in the study group, it was judged as adequate in only 50 percent of cases (15 patients) and inadequate in the remaining 15 patients (p < 0.001). At multivariable analysis, a persistent relationship between device position (left versus right) and image quality (p = 0.001) was shown, independent from other factors.

Conclusions: Silicone expanders and implants in postmastectomy left breast reconstruction considerably reduce the image quality of echocardiography. This may have important clinical implications, given the need for periodic echocardiographic surveillance before and during chemotherapy.


Modena, Italy

From the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Policlinico di Modena, and the Department of Cardiology, Policlinico Hospital, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia.

Received for publication December 17, 2012; accepted February 19, 2013.

Disclosure: None of the authors has any commercial associations or financial interests to disclose.

Marco Pignatti, M.D. Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Policlinico di Modena University of Modena and Reggio Emilia Via del Pozzo 71 I-41124 Modena, Italy

©2013American Society of Plastic Surgeons