Breast volumetric analysis for aesthetic planning in breast reconstruction: A literature review of techniques

Michael P. Chae, Warren Matthew Rozen, Robert T. Spychal, David J. Hunter-Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Accurate volumetric analysis is an essential component of preoperative planning in both reconstructive and aesthetic breast procedures towards achieving symmetrization and patient-satisfactory outcome. Numerous comparative studies and reviews of individual techniques have been reported. However, a unifying review of all techniques comparing their accuracy, reliability, and practicality has been lacking. Methods: A review of the published English literature dating from 1950 to 2015 using databases, such as PubMed, Medline, Web of Science, and EMBASE, was undertaken. Results: Since Bouman's first description of water displacement method, a range of volumetric assessment techniques have been described: thermoplastic casting, direct anthropomorphic measurement, twodimensional (2D) imaging, and computed tomography (CT)/magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. However, most have been unreliable, difficult to execute and demonstrate limited practicability. Introduction of 3D surface imaging has revolutionized the field due to its ease of use, fast speed, accuracy, and reliability. However, its widespread use has been limited by its high cost and lack of high level of evidence. Recent developments have unveiled the first web-based 3D surface imaging program, 4D imaging, and 3D printing. Conclusions: Despite its importance, an accurate, reliable, and simple breast volumetric analysis tool has been elusive until the introduction of 3D surface imaging technology. However, its high cost has limited its wide usage. Novel adjunct technologies, such as web-based 3D surface imaging program, 4D imaging, and 3D printing, appear promising.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-226
Number of pages15
JournalGland Surgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016


  • 3D printing
  • 3D surface imaging
  • 4D imaging
  • Anthropomorphic
  • Breast
  • Computed tomography (CT)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Mammography
  • Thermoplastic casting
  • Two-dimensional photography (2D photography)
  • Ultrasonography
  • Volumetric analysis
  • Water displacement

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