Introduction: The aim of this study was to evaluate whether sarcopenic obesity and muscle quality as expressed by skeletal muscle radiodensity (SMD) are associated to postoperative complications in women undergoing DIEP-flap breast reconstruction (BR).
Methods: All patients who underwent DIEP-flap BR at our tertiary center between 2010 and 2018 were asked to sign informed consent for the use of their electronic medical records and images. By outlining anatomical skeletal muscle contours on the preoperative abdominal CT-scan at lumbar level L3, SMD and skeletal muscle indices (SMI) were measured by two observers independently. Using logistic regression analyses, the association between sarcopenic obesity (BMI >25 & SMI <39), low SMD (<40HU), and Clavien-Dindo (CD) grade ≥ II complications was evaluated. In this way odds ratios (OR) and adjusted odds ratios (ORadjusted) were provided.
Results: Out of the 103 patients included in this study, 36% had CD grade ≥ II complications within 30 days of surgery. Twenty patients (19%) suffered from sarcopenic obesity of whom eleven patients (55%) had CD grade ≥ II complications (OR = 2.7, p = 0.05). In a multivariate analysis, sarcopenic obesity was not significantly related to a higher complication rate (ORadjusted = 2.2, p = 0.14) but women with SMD below average and those with prior radiotherapy had a higher risk for grade ≥ II complications (ORadjusted = 2.9, p = 0.02 and ORadjusted = 2.7, p = 0.02 respectively).
Conclusion: Below average SMD (<40HU) was found to be associated with the development of postoperative CD grade ≥ II complications in women undergoing DIEP-flap BR. Future research should evaluate whether improving SMD reduces the complication incidence in this patient group.