Mammography of the Postreconstruction Breast

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Experience with mammographic examination of the reconstructed breast after mastectomy is limited. Typical mammographic changes associated with breast reconstruction are described. When these changes are identified on mammography, they can prevent patients from having unnecessary biopsies and can alleviate patient anxiety.

A retrospective review of all mammograms performed in our breast center was made to identify typical as well as unusual findings on the postreconstruction mammogram. The findings were correlated with the type of reconstruction and the physical examination findings.

Mammography after mastectomy and breast reconstruction was performed in patients with palpable abnormalities, a suspicion for implant failure, or for patient anxiety. In the postreconstruction patient with a palpable mass, features characteristic of fat necrosis were the most frequent abnormal findings on mammography. Unusually placed implants or focal implant ruptures may explain a mass discovered on breast physical examination.

Imaging of the reconstructed breast after mastectomy yields typical mammographic findings. Fat necrosis can be identified on mammography and may explain a new palpable mass on physical examination. Mammography continues to be useful to identify a postoperative complication or implant failure and to differentiate it from tumor recurrence. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 99: 698, 1997.)

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