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Long-term results of a standardized enhanced recovery protocol in unilateral, secondary autologous breast reconstructions using an abdominal free flap

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BACKGROUND: In 2015, we published one of the first reports using an enhanced recovery protocol (ERP) in microsurgery1, and in 2016, our final ERP setup in autologous breast reconstruction (ABR) using free abdominal flaps2. We showed that by adhering to a few simple, easy to measure, functional discharge criteria, it was possible to safely discharge the patients by the third postoperative day (POD). However, one of the challenges of interpreting studies using ERP in ABR is the often heterogenous patient populations and the need to clearly distinguish between primary and secondary and unilateral and bilateral reconstructions.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: In the 5-year period from 2016-2020, the same surgical team, performed 147 unilateral, delayed breast reconstructions (135 DIEP, 9 MS-TRAM-2, and 3 SIEA flaps) according to our previous analgesic protocol and surgical strategy. Data were collected prospectively.

RESULTS: Three flaps were lost (2%) and 82% of the patients(n=128) were discharged to home by POD 2 (n=8%) or 3 (74%). The remaining 18% (n=26) were discharged by POD 4 (12.5%) or 5 (5.5%). Ten patients (7%) were reoperated, and 17 patients (12%) had minor complications within POD 30 (infection, seroma, etc.) that did not necessitate hospital admission.

CONCLUSION: Using our ERP, unproblematic discharge directly to home is possible on POD 3 in more than 80% of patients after ABR. ERP is no longer a research tool but considered standard of care in microsurgical breast reconstruction.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of plastic, reconstructive & aesthetic surgery : JPRAS
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)1117-1122
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • Autologous breast reconstruction, Enhanced recovery, ERAS, ERP

ID: 70083077