In Search of the Ideal Method in Perforator Mapping: Noncontrast Magnetic Resonance Imaging

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A reliable method for precise identification of the dominant perforator would be extremely valuable in perforator flap surgery. During the past 5 years, multidetector-row computed tomography has demonstrated excellent results in preoperative planning of abdominal free flap breast reconstruction, significantly reducing operative time and complications. The main drawbacks of computed tomography are unnecessary radiation to the patient and possible allergic reactions to intravenous contrast material. To circumvent these limitations, we performed noncontrast magnetic resonance imaging for abdominal perforator mapping. The aim of our study was to assess the accuracy and reliability of this technique in preoperative planning of breast reconstruction with deep inferior epigastric artery perforator flaps. From October 2007 to February 2009, noncontrast magnetic resonance preoperative mapping was performed in 56 female patients who underwent breast reconstruction after mastectomy with deep inferior epigastric artery perforator flaps. Imaging results were compared with the intraoperative clinical findings in all patients. Preoperative magnetic resonance imaging without the contrast showed no false-positive or false-negative results. In all cases, the perforator chosen as dominant according to magnetic resonance images corresponded with the perforator chosen intraoperatively (100% predictive value). Preoperative imaging techniques make perforator flap surgery safer for the patient. Noncontrast magnetic resonance imaging provides reliable information on the vascular anatomy of the abdominal wall, facilitating selection of the most appropriate deep inferior epigastric artery dominant perforator. It avoids radiation to the patient and also the need for intravenous contrast medium as required for the multidetector-row computed tomography. In our opinion, noncontrast magnetic resonance imaging is an ideal method for preoperative planning of breast reconstruction with deep inferior epigastric artery perforator flaps.

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