Background: The effect of postoperative radiotherapy following autologous flap breast reconstruction is controversial. The aim of this study was to measure whether adjuvant radiotherapy following immediate deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) free flap breast reconstruction affected flap volume. Methods: Sixty-eight women underwent immediate autologous DIEP flap reconstruction following mastectomy for breast cancer. Twenty-two of the 68 received postoperative radiotherapy (45Gy in 20 fractions over 4 weeks). Intraoperative flap volume data were collected prospectively. Volumetric assessment was carried out a minimum of 1 year after surgery. Patients who had volume adjustment surgery after initial reconstruction were analysed separately. Results: The mean age of the women was 52 (range 37-69) years and median follow-up was 3.5 (range 1-10) years. There was no statistically significant difference in volume change between patients who had and those who did not have postreconstruction radiotherapy for the whole cohort (median reduction 65 versus 0 ml) or when women who had undergone further volume adjustment surgery were excluded. Conclusion: In this study postoperative radiotherapy did not significantly affect breast volume after DIEP flap reconstruction. The potential need for postoperative radiotherapy should not deter women from undergoing immediate DIEP flap breast reconstruction.
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