Umbilical necrosis rates after abdominal-based microsurgical breast reconstruction

Joseph A. Ricci, Parisa Kamali, Babette E. Becherer, Daniel Curiel, Winona Wu, Adam M. Tobias, Samuel J. Lin, Bernard T. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background Umbilical stalk necrosis represents a rare, yet important complication after abdominal-based microsurgical breast reconstruction, which is both underrecognized and understudied in the literature. Once identified, umbilical reconstruction can be an extremely challenging problem. Methods All consecutive breast free flaps at a single institution from February 2004 to February 2016 were reviewed, excluding non–abdominal-based flaps. Patients were divided based on the development of umbilical necrosis postoperatively. Demographics, surgical characteristics, and other complications were compared between the groups. Results A total of 918 patients met the inclusion criteria, with 29 developing umbilical necrosis identified (3.2%). Patients developing necrosis tended to be older (49.4 yrs versus 52.9 yrs; P < 0.01); have higher BMI (31.3 versus 27.8; P < 0.01); and were more likely to be smokers (27.5% versus 11.6%; P = 0.01). Umbilical necrosis was also associated with increased flap weight (830 g versus 656 g; P < 0.01), decreased time of perforator dissection (151 min versus 169 min; P = 0.02); bilateral cases (68.9% versus 44.7%; P < 0.01), and increased number of perforators per flap (2.5 versus 2.2; P = 0.03). There was no association with flap type (deep inferior epigastric perforator, superficial inferior epigastric artery, or free TRAM), diabetes, previous abdominal surgery, or use of preoperative imaging. Umbilical necrosis was not associated with any concomitant complications. Conclusions Umbilical stalk necrosis was found to occur in 3.2% of patients and was associated with several preoperative comorbidities and intraoperative characteristics. This information should help influence intraoperative decision-making to prevent the development of this undesirable complication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-263
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • Breast reconstruction
  • DIEP flap
  • Perforators
  • Umbilical necrosis
  • Umbilical reconstruction
  • Umbiliconeoplasty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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