Clinical Outcomes of Percutaneous Drainage of Breast Fluid Collections after Mastectomy with Expander-based Breast Reconstruction

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To determine clinical outcomes of patients who underwent imaging-guided percutaneous drainage of breast fluid collections after mastectomy and breast reconstruction.

Materials And Methods:

A retrospective review was performed including all consecutive patients who underwent percutaneous drainage of fluid collections after mastectomy with tissue expander–based reconstruction between January 2007 and September 2012. During this period, 879 mastectomies (563 patients) with expander-based breast reconstruction were performed. Fluid collections developed in 28 patients (5%), which led to 30 imaging-guided percutaneous drainage procedures. The median follow-up time was 533 days. Patient characteristics, surgical technique, microbiology analysis, and clinical outcomes were reviewed.


The mean age of patients was 51.5 years (range, 30.9–69.4 y), and the median time between breast reconstruction and drainage was 35 days (range, 4–235 d). Erythema and swelling were the most common presenting symptoms. The median volume of fluid evacuated at the time of drain placement was 70 mL. Drains were left in place for a median 14 days (range, 6–34 d). Microorganisms were detected in the fluid in 12 of 30 drainage procedures, with Staphylococcus aureus being the most common microorganism. No further intervention was needed in 21 of 30 drainage procedures (70%). However, surgical intervention (removal of expanders) was needed after 6 (20%) drainage procedures, and additional percutaneous drainage procedures were performed after 3 (10%) drainage procedures.


Percutaneous drainage is an effective means of treating postoperative fluid collections after expander-based breast reconstruction and can obviate the need for repeat surgery in most cases.

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