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Use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for tissue ischemia after breast reconstruction

Introduction: Mastectomy skin flap necrosis represents a significant complication of breast reconstructive procedures and is reported to occur in 30%-52% of patients undergoing breast reconstruction. Early identification of ischemia and early initiation of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2) therapy can mitigate the effects of ischemia and rescue otherwise non-viable breast flap tissue.

Methods: We retrospectively examined the outcomes of HBO2 therapy in eight breasts with compromised mastectomy skin flaps between September 2015 and January 2017. Indocyanine green angiography (ICGA) was used to assess perfusion intraoperatively and post-HBO2 administration.

Results: Seven patients were referred for HBO2 within 24 hours of mastectomy. One patient failed to improve despite starting hyperbaric treatment within 24 hours. All other patients manifested successful healing of their mastectomy skin flaps with acceptable cosmesis after 10 HBO2 treatments. The mean relative perfusion of the at-risk area was 13.8% (Å}3.7%) pre-HBO2 and 101.6% (Å}37.3%) post-HBO2. The average area at-risk pre-HBO2 was 17.1 cm2 and reduced to zero post-HBO2. Relative perfusion values after HBO2 were found to be 6.8 (Å}3.4) times greater than those measured prior to HBO2.

Conclusions: A short course of HBO2 may be sufficient to successfully rescue at risk post-mastectomy breast flaps. ICGA is a useful adjunct for evaluating post-mastectomy breast flap perfusion before and after HBO2 therapy.