Preoperative imaging has become a valuable tool in the planning of perforator flaps, and to date, computed tomographic angiography (CTA) has been shown to be the gold standard in this role. The evidence for this is a source of constant investigation, with advances in newer modalities coming to the fore. A literature review was undertaken to evaluate the current role of relevant imaging modalities in 'visualized surgery'-the ability to map anatomy prior to surgical incision. A focus is made on their accuracy in perforator mapping and correlation with improved clinical outcomes in the context of deep inferior epigastric artery perforator (DIEP) flap surgery. Other applications for preoperative imaging in breast surgery such as imaging of alternate donor sites or of the recipient site and imaging for volumetric assessment are also discussed. Preoperative imaging is integral to the planning of reconstructive breast surgery. This review has discussed the range of imaging techniques used to map and visualize perforator vasculature, and whilst there are varied clinical applications for the imaging modalities, CTA has been demonstrated to be the most precise and to confer the best clinical outcomes. Applications of the other imaging techniques are varied and these should remain as valid alternatives, particularly for patients where radiation or contrast exposure should be limited. Further studies could focus on the development of a more definitive protocol regarding the approach to preoperative imaging in breast surgery.
- Computed tomographic angiography (CTA)
- Computed tomography
- Deep inferior epigastric artery perforator flap (DIEP flap)