Microsurgical reconstruction of the breast represents an area of continual evolution, as new autologous flaps are introduced and principles are refined. This progression can be demonstrated by bibliometric analysis of the scientific literature.Methods
The top 10 plastic surgery journals were determined by impact factor (IF). Each issue of every journal from 1993 to 2013 was accessed directly, and all articles discussing microsurgery on the female breast were classified by authors' geographic location, study design, and level of evidence (LOE, I-V). The productivity index and productivity share of each geographic region was calculated based on number of articles published and IF.Results
A total of 706 breast microsurgery articles were analyzed. There was a significant increase in microsurgical breast research (p < 0.01), with an average 33.6 ± 31.1 articles per year and a mean increase of 4.4 articles per year. Most research was of lower LOE, with level I constituting 0.14% and level II constituting 5.21% of all articles. United States contributed the most research with 336.4 articles, followed by Western Europe with 242.2. However, Western Europe experienced the greatest increase in productivity share, with + 0.50 ± 0.29 growth, while United States demonstrated the greatest decrease in productivity share with - 1.23 ± 0.31 growth. Among autologous flaps, transverse rectus abdominis muscle research had the greatest yearly publication volume until 2002, when overtaken by deep inferior epigastric perforator flap research.Conclusion
Over the 21-year study period, the United States not only contributed the greatest volume of research on female breast microsurgery but also demonstrated the greatest decline in research productivity. Efforts should be made to increase the LOE in breast microsurgery research.