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Simultaneous Co-surgeon Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator (DIEP) Flap Breast Reconstructions: Feasibility and Clinical Outcomes.

BACKGROUND: A co-surgeon model is known to be favorable in microvascular breast reconstruction, but simultaneous co-surgeon deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap cases have not been well-studied. The authors hypothesize that performing two simultaneous co-surgeon bilateral DIEP flap reconstructions results in non-inferior clinical outcomes and may improve patient access to care.

METHODS: A single-institution, retrospective cohort study was performed utilizing record review to identify all cases of co-surgeon free-flap breast reconstructions over a 38-month period. Patients who underwent simultaneous bilateral DIEP flap breast reconstructions with the same two co-surgeons were identified. The control group consisted of subjects who underwent non-simultaneous reconstruction by the same co-surgeons within the same, preceding, or following month of those in the study group. Primary outcome variables were 90-day postoperative complications, while secondary outcomes were operating time, ischemia time, and length of stay. Descriptive statistics, univariate and multivariable regression analyses were performed.

RESULTS: Overall, 137 subjects were identified and 64 met the inclusion criteria (n = 28 study, n = 36 control). There were no statistically significant differences between groups in body mass index, radiation, trainee experience, flap perforator number, immediate/delayed reconstruction, or length of stay. There were also no statistically significant differences in complications, including flap loss, anastomosis revision, take-back to the operating room, or re-admission. Operative time was longer in the simultaneous DIEP group (540.5 vs. 443.5 min, p < 0.01), but ischemia time was shorter in the simultaneous group (64.0 vs. 80.5 min, p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS: A simultaneous co-surgeon approach to bilateral DIEP flap reconstruction may improve access to care and does not result in a higher complication rate compared with non-simultaneous bilateral DIEP flaps.

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