A multiple logistic regression analysis of complications following microsurgical breast reconstruction

Samir Rao, Ellen C. Stolle, Sarah Sher, Chun-Wang Lin, Bahram Momen, Maurice Y. Nahabedian


Background: Although we practice in an era of high flap success rates following microsurgical breast reconstruction, complications can still occur. Several studies have evaluated the impact of risk factors on microvascular outcomes in the setting of a particular type of patient or with a particular type of flap. However, few studies that have evaluated a consecutive series of high-risk patients will all types of microvascular breast reconstruction. Our goal was to gain a better understanding of the relationship between risk factors and complications in order to provide useful information for patients and surgeons considering free flap breast reconstruction in high-risk patients.
Methods: We performed a retrospective review of all patients who underwent microsurgical breast reconstruction by the senior author (M.Y.N) from July 2005 July 2010. Patient records were analyzed for risk factors (age, BMI, smoking history, medical history, adjunct therapies, timing of reconstruction, type of reconstruction), and complications (hematoma, seroma, infection, wound dehiscence, pulmonary embolism (PE), deep venous thrombosis (DVT), pneumonia, fat necrosis, leech use, partial flap loss, total flap loss). Statistical methods were employed to determine statistically significant relationships.
Results: A total of 352 patients underwent 490 microvascular breast reconstructions during the study period. Active smoking was found to be a statistically significant risk factor for seroma [P<0.0001; odds ratio (OR) =36; 95% confidence interval (CI), 5.9-193.9], infection (P=0.0081; OR =4.3; 95% CI, 1.3-14.1), and pneumonia (P<0.0001; OR =17.1; 95% CI, 3.3-89.9). Unilateral reconstruction was found to be a statistically significant factor for fat necrosis (P=0.0083; OR =4; 95% CI, 1.4-11.4). Additionally, BMI was found to be a statistically significant risk factor for infection (P<0.00001).
Conclusions: This study corroborates findings from previous studies. Tobacco use was demonstrated to be a significant risk factor for infection, seroma, and pneumonia. Obesity was demonstrated to be a significant risk factor for infection. Unilateral reconstruction was demonstrated to pose additional risk for fat necrosis compared to bilateral reconstruction. Patients who choose to have microsurgical breast reconstruction should be informed of the complication profile associated with certain risk factors.