Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Do you need a CT angiogram before DIEP flap breast reconstruction?

If you've had several previous abdominal surgeries and are considering DIEP flap breast reconstruction, a CT angiogram may be recommended by your plastic surgeon.

A CT angiogram (CTA) is a special type of CT scan that examines the blood vessels in the abdomen to determine if they are intact and able to be used for DIEP flap reconstruction. It can also provide a "road map" for the surgeon and help locate the largest blood vessels ("perforators").

CT angiogram before DIEP flap

Sometimes the vessels needed for the DIEP flap may have been damaged by previous abdominal surgery. Although the majority of previous abdominal surgeries are not a contraindication for DIEP flap reconstruction (except a tummy tuck), there is a small chance that the blood vessels may be damaged in patients that have had multiple previous abdominal surgeries or certain procedures.

While some surgeons obtain CT angiograms on their patients routinely before DIEP flap surgery, in our opinion not all patients need the study. A very good example is patients who have never had abdominal surgery. Much depends on surgeon preference and experience.

It is also important to realize that the test exposes patients to radiation; in many cases, patients have already had more than their fair share of radiation as part of their breast cancer treatment! At PRMA, we usually only recommend a pre-operative CTA in patients that have had multiple previous abdominal surgeries and there is a question about the vascular anatomy.

There is no doubt, despite the radiation exposure, a CTA can be an excellent planning tool when needed. Be sure to discuss any concerns you have regarding previous abdominal surgeries and the need for a CT angiogram with your plastic surgeon.

I hope this info helps!

Dr C

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Dr Chrysopoulo is a breast reconstruction surgeon in San Antonio, TX, specializing in the DIEP flap and other state-of-the-art breast reconstruction procedures. In-Network for most US insurance plans. Patients are welcomed from across and outside the US. Please call (800) 692-5565 or email patientadvocate@PRMAplasticsurgery.com to learn more about your breast reconstruction options. Connect with others touched by breast cancer on Facebook.

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