Microcirculatory Evaluation of the Abdominal Skin in Breast Reconstruction with Deep Inferior Epigastric Artery Perforator Flap

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Abstract

Background:

No studies have assessed the perfusion of the undermined abdominal skin in breast reconstruction with deep inferior epigastric artery perforator flap. A greater understanding of the procedure’s impact on the perfusion of the abdominal skin can be valuable in predicting areas susceptible to necrosis.

Methods:

Microcirculatory changes were monitored in the abdominal skin of 20 consecutive patients undergoing breast reconstruction with a deep inferior epigastric artery perforator flap. Quantitative mapping was performed with laser Doppler perfusion imaging at 7 set intervals. Measurements were taken and recorded within 4 standardized zones covering the skin between the xiphoid process and the upper incisional boundary of the flap (zones 1–4; cranial to caudal).

Results:

Before commencing surgery, a significantly higher perfusion was registered in zones 3 and 4 when compared with zone 1. After undermining the abdominal skin, the perfusion in zones 1–3 increased significantly. After the abdominal closure, the perfusion dropped in all 4 zones and only the perfusion level in zone 1 remained significantly higher than preoperative mean. Postoperatively, the perfusion of each zone stabilized at a significantly higher level compared with preoperative values. No tissue necrosis was observed in any of the zones.

Conclusions:

Although perforators are divided during undermining of the abdominal skin, there seems to be a reactive hyperemia that exceeds the blood supply delivered by the perforators. Thus, due to microcirculatory mechanisms, the undermining of the abdomen during the procedure does not seem to present any great risk of tissue necrosis.

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