Article Abstract

The effect of CT angiography and venous couplers on surgery duration in microvascular breast reconstruction: a single operator’s experience

Authors: Ledibabari Mildred Ngaage, Georgette Oni, Bruno Di Pace, Raed Rafat Hamed, Laura Fopp, Brendan Chuj Koo, Charles Musonda Malata


Background: The use of CT angiography (CTA) or venous couplers (VCs) has led to shorter operative times in free flap breast reconstruction (FFBR). However, there are no reports on the effect of these two interventions relative to each other or combined.
Methods: Abdominal based FFBRs performed by a single surgeon before introduction of either intervention were compared to those with VC only, and those after the addition of CTA to VCs (CT-VC). Operative time was defined as from “knife-to-skin” to insertion of the last stitch.
Results: One hundred and twenty patients; 40 without intervention (WI), 40 with VC, and 40 with CT-VC. Introduction of VCs did not significantly reduce operative time compared to WI (P=0.73). However, patients in the CT-VC group had significantly shorter operations vs. WI (472 vs. 586 min, P<0.00001) and vs. VC alone (472 vs. 572 min, P=0.0006). Similarly, introduction of each intervention showed a stepwise decrease in ischaemia time (WI vs. VC: 100 vs. 89 min, P=0.0106; VC vs. CT-VC: 89 vs. 80 min, P=0.0307; WI vs. CT-VC: 100 vs. 80 min, P<0.00001).
Conclusions: Combination of CTA and VC significantly reduced operative and ischaemic times for FFBR; this was predominantly due to use of CTA. CTA mitigates the surgical learning curve as demonstrated by shorter operating times via providing a vascular anatomy roadmap, thus facilitating flap harvest.