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Reconstruction of the Irradiated Breast: A National Claims-Based Assessment of Postoperative Morbidity

Chetta, Matthew D. M.D.; Aliu, Oluseyi M.D., M.S.; Zhong, Lin M.D., M.P.H.; Sears, Erika D. M.D., M.S.; Waljee, Jennifer F. M.D., M.P.H.; Chung, Kevin C. M.D., M.S.; Momoh, Adeyiza O. M.D.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: April 2017 - Volume 139 - Issue 4 - p 783-792
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000003168
Breast: Outcomes Article

Background: Implant-based reconstruction rates have risen among irradiation-treated breast cancer patients in the United States. This study aims to assess the morbidity associated with various breast reconstruction techniques in irradiated patients.

Methods: From the MarketScan Commercial Claims and Encounters database, the authors selected breast cancer patients who had undergone mastectomy, irradiation, and breast reconstruction from 2009 to 2012. Demographic and clinical treatment data, including data on the timing of irradiation relative to breast reconstruction were recorded. Complications and failures after implant and autologous reconstruction were also recorded. A multivariable logistic regression model was developed with postoperative complications as the dependent variable and patient demographic and clinical variables as independent variables.

Results: Four thousand seven hundred eighty-one irradiated patients who met the inclusion criteria were selected. A majority of the patients [n = 3846 (80 percent)] underwent reconstruction with implants. Overall complication rates were 45.3 percent and 30.8 percent for patients with implant and autologous reconstruction, respectively. Failure of reconstruction occurred in 29.4 percent of patients with implant reconstruction compared with 4.3 percent of patients with autologous reconstruction. In multivariable logistic regression, irradiated patients with implant reconstruction had two times the odds of having any complication and 11 times the odds of failure relative to patients with autologous reconstruction.

Conclusions: Implant-based breast reconstruction in the irradiated patient, although popular, is associated with significant morbidity. Failures of reconstruction with implants in these patients approach 30 percent in the short term, suggesting a need for careful shared decision-making, with full disclosure of the potential morbidity.


Ann Arbor, Mich.

From the Section of Plastic Surgery, University of Michigan.

Received for publication June 3, 2016; accepted September 9, 2016.

Presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery, in Scottsdale, Arizona, January 16 through 19, 2016.

Disclosure:None of the authors has a financial interest in any of the products or devices mentioned in this article.

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Adeyiza O. Momoh, M.D., Section of Plastic Surgery, University of Michigan Health System, 1500 East Medical Center Drive, 2130 Taubman Center, Ann Arbor, Mich. 48109-0340,

Copyright © 2016 by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons