Moffitt Cancer Center Experience of Tissue Expander Breast Reconstruction: Does Acellular Dermal Matrix Increase Return to the Operating Room?

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Tissue expander and implant remains the most common technique for breast reconstruction. A controversial topic within this method is routine use of acellular dermal matrix (ADM). Acellular dermal matrices have increased risks of infection, seroma, hematoma, skin flap necrosis, and total complications.


After an institutional review board approval, a retrospective chart review was conducted of 756 tissue expander with implant cases from November 2010 to November 2016 at Moffitt Cancer Center with 2 breast reconstruction surgeons. Patients were grouped in 2 groups: tissue expander alone reconstruction (TE) and tissue expander with ADM (TE + ADM). Complications were defined by return visits to the operating room for irrigation and debridement as well as for subsequent tissue expander placement.


There were 703 patients in the TE group and 53 in the TE + ADM group. Patients undergoing TE + ADM reconstruction were 3 times more likely to experience return to operating room compared with patients undergoing TE alone (7.5% vs 2.4%). Patients were significantly more likely to undergo 3 or more subsequent tissue expander placement procedures with TE + ADM (54.7%) compared with TE alone (4.8%) (P < 0.0001).


Although ADM may be appropriate for specific patients, its use in tissue expander breast reconstruction should be judiciously selected, because there is an observed increase in complications needing return to the operating room.

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