Breast reconstruction with immediate autologous free tissue transfer in a peri-operative COVID-19 positive patient: A case report illustrating feasibility of aftercare

Published:November 07, 2020DOI:


      Globally, there has been a measured response to rationalise elective operating during the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. In terms of breast cancer care, this has led to a restricted provision of reconstruction with autologous free tissue transfer. A primary concern is the risk of mortality in elective surgery patients who develop COVID-19. The aim of this report is to describe the observed physiological impact of the virus on our patient, and to address how outpatient care after autologous free tissue transfer can be delivered to COVID-19 positive patients.
      In March 2020, we performed a bilateral breast reconstruction with a deep inferior epigastric perforator flap and a superficial inferior epigastric perforator flap. The patient became symptomatic on day three post-operatively, tested positive for COVID-19 and was discharged home. Drain and dressing management was continued through the use of telemedicine. Two weeks following the operation, a breast seroma formed that was drained semi-electively in the COVID-19 positive area of the Emergency Department. The patient visited the dressing clinic twice in total and healed after three weeks.
      Despite undergoing complex surgery and having pre-operative chemotherapy, our patient suffered a mild form of the virus limited to upper respiratory symptoms. Physiologically we did not see any significant difference to that of the normal post-operative course. This case demonstrates the possibility of managing autologous breast reconstruction patients using telemedicine. Although COVID-19 can complicate, or even be fatal, in the perioperative course, our patient thankfully suffered no discernable negative outcome from her infection.


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