Anatomic and physiological fundamentals for autologous breast reconstruction
The success of autologous tissue transfer is reliant on adequate blood supply and as we endeavour to tailor our reconstructive options through our flap choices and design. Autologous breast reconstruction has made substantial progress over the years and the evolution of refinements over the last 30 years has allowed flaps to be based on specific perforators. The ultimate goal of breast reconstruction following mastectomy is to match optimal tissue replacement with minimal donor-site expenditure. In parallel surgeons will seek ways to ensure safe flap design and harvest while maintaining predictability and reliable tissue perfusion. Better understanding of the vascular anatomy and physiology of the cutaneous circulation of soft tissues, and that of patterns of blood flow from individual perforator has provided insight to advance perforator flap harvest and modifications in flap design. The aim of this article is to review the principles of blood supply and flap design exemplified through common flaps used in autologous breast reconstructive surgery, to better understand approaches for safe flap harvest and transfer of well perfused tissue.