The Impact of Preoperative CT Angiography on Breast Reconstruction With Abdominal Perforator Flaps

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Because of the anatomic variability of the deep inferior epigastric artery, preoperative CT angiography (pCTA) has gained popularity for planning abdominal perforator flap breast reconstruction. This study evaluates how pCTA has affected preoperative planning, operative time, and outcome.


We performed a retrospective study of abdominal free flap breast reconstruction at our institution over a 4-year period, with pCTA performed routinely after the first year. Operative time and outcomes were compared between procedures with and without pCTA. Incidental findings were recorded.


Between 2006 and 2010, 102 abdominal perforator flap surgeries were performed on 69 patients; of whom, 51 patients had pCTA and 18 did not. pCTA changed preoperative planning in 50% of cases by identifying the best perforator in unilateral cases or perforators with long intramuscular course. Preoperative plan based on pCTA corresponded to operative procedures in 89% of cases. The sensitivity and positive predictive value of pCTA to localize perforators were 79% and 92%, respectively. Operative time was significantly reduced with pCTA for both unilateral (636 vs. 496 minutes, P = 0.017) and bilateral cases (746 vs. 629 minutes, P = 0.05). Rates of fat necrosis, partial flap necrosis, and complete flap loss were comparable between the 2 groups. Incidentalomas were found in 36% of patients.


pCTA appears to reduce operative time by minimizing time spent identifying perforators, assisting in side selection for unilateral reconstruction, and optimizing planning when a long intramuscular course is identified. The effect of a learning curve cannot be excluded and is the chief limitation of this study.

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