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Microvascular Autologous Breast Reconstruction in the Context of Radiation Therapy: Comparing Two Reconstructive Algorithms

Patel, Ketan M. M.D.; Albino, Frank M.D.; Fan, Kenneth L. M.D.; Liao, Eileen Ph.D.; Nahabedian, Maurice Y. M.D.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: August 2013 - Volume 132 - Issue 2 - p 251–257
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e31829586e2
Breast: Original Article
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Background: When postmastectomy radiation therapy is anticipated, delaying autologous reconstruction prevents radiation delivery issues and radiation-induced contour irregularities. Delayed-immediate autologous breast reconstruction may allow for maintenance of the breast skin envelope as compared with delayed reconstruction with the temporary insertion of a tissue expander. The authors compared perioperative complications and revision surgery rates of comparative cohorts to determine which method is preferable.

Methods: Delayed-immediate reconstruction was defined as placement of a temporary tissue expander in the first stage at the time of mastectomy before flap reconstruction, which occurred following postmastectomy radiation therapy. Delayed reconstruction was categorized as mastectomy with primary closure in the first stage followed by flap reconstruction.

Results: One hundred fifty-two patients and 192 breasts met the study criteria for this retrospective review (delayed reconstruction, 118 breasts; delayed-immediate autologous breast reconstruction, 74 breasts). Patient age and body mass index were similar between groups (p > 0.05). Perioperative first-stage complication rates were 8.5 percent in the delayed group and 10.8 percent in the delayed-immediate cohort (p = 0.81). Total flap loss (2.5 versus 4.1 percent; p = 0.68) and arterial (1.7 versus 1.4 percent; p = 0.82) and venous (4.3 versus 5.4 percent; p = 0.73) anastomotic revision rates were similar between the cohorts, respectively. Reoperative surgery occurred in 11.9 percent versus 9.6 percent in the delayed and delayed-immediate cohorts, respectively (p = 0.69).

Conclusions: In comparing two treatment algorithms, flap-related complication rates are comparable. First-stage surgery results in a slightly increased complication rate in the delayed-immediate cohort. Improved overall results with delayed-immediate reconstruction are implied, given significantly decreased rates of revision surgery following flap reconstruction.


Washington, D.C.; and Los Angeles, Calif.

From the Department of Plastic Surgery, Georgetown University Hospital; and the Department of Biostatistics, University of California, Los Angeles.

Received for publication October 6, 2012; accepted January 31, 2013.

Presented at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery, in Naples, Florida, January 12 through 15, 2013.

Disclosure: Dr. Nahabedian is a member of the speaker’s bureau for LifeCell Corporation (Branchburg, N.J.). The remaining authors have no conflicts of interest or financial disclosures. No funding was used for the preparation of this article.

Maurice Y. Nahabedian, M.D. Department of Plastic Surgery, Georgetown University, 3800 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, D.C. 20007,

©2013American Society of Plastic Surgeons