Advances in imaging technologies for planning breast reconstruction
The role and choice of preoperative imaging for planning in breast reconstruction is still a disputed topic in the reconstructive community, with varying opinion on the necessity, the ideal imaging modality, costs and impact on patient outcomes. Since the advent of perforator flaps their use in microsurgical breast reconstruction has grown. Perforator based flaps afford lower donor morbidity by sparing the underlying muscle provide durable results, superior cosmesis to create a natural looking new breast, and are preferred in the context of radiation therapy. However these surgeries are complex; more technically challenging that implant based reconstruction, and leaves little room for error. The role of imaging in breast reconstruction can assist the surgeon in exploring or confirming flap choices based on donor site characteristics and presence of suitable perforators. Vascular anatomical studies in the lab have provided the surgeon a foundation of knowledge on location and vascular territories of individual perforators to improve our understanding for flap design and safe flap harvest. The creation of a presurgical map in patients can highlight any abnormal or individual anatomical variance to optimize flap design, intraoperative decision-making and execution of flap harvest with greater predictability and efficiency. This article highlights the role and techniques for preoperative planning using the newer technologies that have been adopted in reconstructive clinical practice: computed tomographic angiography (CTA), magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), laser-assisted indocyanine green fluorescence angiography (LA-ICGFA) and dynamic infrared thermography (DIRT). The primary focus of this paper is on the application of CTA and MRA imaging modalities.