Three-dimensional imaging provides valuable clinical data to aid in unilateral tissue expander-implant breast reconstruction

Oren M. Tepper, Nolan S. Karp, Kevin Small, Jacob Unger, Lauren Rudolph, Ashley Pritchard, Mihye Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The current approach to breast reconstruction remains largely subjective and is based on physical examination and visual-estimates of breast size. Thus, the overall success of breast reconstruction is limited by the inability of plastic surgeons to objectively assess breast volume and shape, which may result in suboptimal outcomes. A potential solution to this obstacle may be three-dimensional (3D) imaging, which can provide unique clinical data that was previously unattainable to plastic surgeons. The following study represents a prospective analysis of patient volunteers undergoing unilateral tissue expander (TE)-implant reconstruction by one of the two senior authors (MC, NSK). All patients underwent unilateral mastectomy with immediate or delayed insertion of a TE, followed by an exchange for a permanent silicone or saline implant. 3D scans were obtained during routine pre- and postoperative office visits. The 3D breast-volume calculations served as a guide for surgical management. Twelve patients have completed 3D-assisted unilateral breast reconstruction to date. These patients represent a wide range of body habitus and breast size/shape; 3D volume range from 136 to 518 cm3. The mean baseline breast asymmetry in this group was 12.0 ± 10.8%. Contralateral symmetry procedures were performed in eleven patients, consisting of the following: mastopexy (n = 6), augmentation (n = 1), mastopexy/augmentation (n = 2), and reduction mammoplasty (n = 2). Reconstruction was completed in a total number of 2 (n = 10) or 3 (n = 2) operations. Overall breast symmetry improved at the completion of reconstruction in the majority of patients, with an average postoperative symmetry of 95.1 ± 4.4% (relative to 88% preoperatively). 3D imaging serves a valuable adjunct to TE-implant breast reconstruction. This technology provides volumetric data that can help guide breast reconstruction, such as in choosing the initial TE size, total volume of expansion, and final implant size/shape. 3D imaging technology also provides benefit as a method for assessing tissue expansion, the need for symmetry or revision procedures, and critically analyzing the final reconstructive outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-550
Number of pages8
JournalBreast Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • 3D imaging
  • Implant reconstruction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Oncology


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