Breast Reconstruction with SIEA Flaps: A Single-Institution Experience with 145 Free Flaps

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Abstract

Background:

Refinements in microsurgical breast reconstruction have refined superficial inferior epigastric artery (SIEA) and superficial circumflex iliac artery (SCIA) flaps, yet technical difficulties and varied success rates limit widespread acceptance. The authors present the outcomes of their experience with 145 consecutive SIEA/SCIA flaps and suggest technical tips to improve success with this important flap.

Methods:

An institutional review board–approved retrospective chart review of all SIEA/SCIA free flaps performed by the senior authors between January 1, 2006, and February 6, 2014, was conducted. Data on patient demographics, flap characteristics, and complications were collected.

Results:

There were 145 flaps performed in 119 patients. Arterial donor and recipient mismatch occurred in 55 instances (38 percent). In these cases, 48 arteries (87 percent) were spatulated and seven (13 percent) were back-cut to improve size concordance. Nine flaps required operative return for flap viability concerns. Five were arterial, three were venous, and one flap had concomitant arterial and venous thrombosis. Total flap loss rate attributable to thrombotic events was 4.8 percent. No flaps with arterial thrombosis on reoperation were salvageable. Furthermore, 80 percent had arterial revisions at initial operation. No patients had an abdominal bulge or hernia, and the fat necrosis rate was 10.3 percent.

Conclusions:

SIEA/SCIA breast reconstruction can be reliably performed; however, flaps exhibiting postoperative arterial thrombosis with revision at initial surgery are unlikely salvageable on reoperation. Spatulation did not correlate with an increased thrombosis rate; in fact, the authors advocate for donor artery manipulation to manage size mismatch.

CLINCAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Therapeutic, IV.

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