Impact of Evolving Radiation Therapy Techniques on Implant-Based Breast Reconstruction

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Abstract

Background:

Patients undergoing implant-based reconstruction in the setting of postmastectomy radiation therapy suffer from increased complications and inferior outcomes compared with those not irradiated, but advances in radiation delivery have allowed for more nuanced therapy. The authors investigated whether these advances impact patient outcomes in implant-based breast reconstruction.

Methods:

Retrospective chart review identified all implant-based reconstructions performed at a single institution from November of 2010 to November of 2013. These data were cross-referenced with a registry of patients undergoing breast irradiation. Patient demographics, treatment characteristics, and outcomes were analyzed.

Results:

Three hundred twenty-six patients (533 reconstructions) were not irradiated, whereas 83 patients (125 reconstructions) received radiation therapy; mean follow-up was 24.7 months versus 26.0 months (p = 0.49). Overall complication rates were higher in the irradiated group (35.2 percent versus 14.4 percent; p < 0.01). Increased maximum radiation doses to the skin were associated with complications (maximum dose to skin, p = 0.05; maximum dose to 1 cc of skin, p = 0.01). Different treatment modalities (e.g., three-dimensional conformal, intensity-modulated, field-in-field, and hybrid techniques) did not impact complication rates. Prone versus supine positioning significantly decreased the maximum skin dose (58.5 Gy versus 61.7 Gy; p = 0.05), although this did not translate to significantly decreased complication rates in analysis of prone versus supine positioning.

Conclusions:

As radiation techniques evolve, the maximum dose to skin should be given consideration similar to that for heart and lung dosing, to optimize reconstructive outcomes. Prone positioning significantly decreases the maximum skin dose and trends toward significance in reducing reconstructive complications. With continued study, this may become clinically important. Interdepartmental studies such as this one ensure quality of care.

CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Therapeutic, III.

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