Hoffman RD, Maddox SS, Meade AE, St Hilaire H, Zampell JC, Allen RJ
Background The superficial inferior epigastric artery (SIEA) flap allows transfer of tissue without violating the rectus fascia. Traditionally it is best used in single stage reconstruction when vessel caliber is 1.5 mm; 56% to 70% of SIEAs are less than 1.5 mm and, therefore, not reliable. We aim to demonstrate the increased reliability of SIEA through surgical delay by quantifying reconstructive outcomes and delay-induced hemodynamic alterations. Methods Patients presenting for autologous breast reconstruction between May 2019 and October 2020 were evaluated with preoperative imaging and received either delayed SIEA or delayed deep inferior epigastric (DIEP) reconstruction based on clinical considerations, such as prior surgery and perforator size/location. Prospective data were collected on operative time, length of stay, and complications. Arterial diameter and peak flow were quantified with Doppler ultrasound predelay and postdelay. Results Seventeen delayed SIEA flaps were included. The mean age (+/- SD) was 46.2 +/- 10.55 years, and body mass index was 26.7 +/- 4.26 kg/m(2). Average hospital stay after delay was 0.85 +/- 0.90 days, and duration before reconstruction was 6 days to 14.5 months. Delay complications included 1 abdominal seroma (n = 1, 7.7%). Superficial inferior epigastric artery diameter predelay (mean +/- 95% confidence interval) was 1.37 +/- 0.20 mm and increased to 2.26 +/- 0.24 mm postdelay. A significant increase in diameter was noted 0.9 +/- 0.22 mm (P < 0.0001). Mean peak flow predelay was 14.43 +/- 13.38 cm/s and 44.61 +/- 60.35 cm/s (n = 4, P = 0.1822) postdelay. Conclusions Surgical delay of the SIEA flap augments SIEA diameter, increasing the reliability of this flap for breast reconstruction. Superficial inferior epigastric artery delay results in low rates of complications and no failures in our series. Although more patients are needed to assess increase in arterial flow, use of surgical delay can expand the use of SIEA flap reconstruction and reduce abdominal morbidity associated with abdominal flap breast reconstruction.