Hyperbaric oxygen treatment for mastectomy flap ischaemia: A case series of 50 breasts

N.E. Spruijt*, L.T. Hoekstra, J. Wilmink, M.M. Hoogbergen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction: Hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) has been suggested as an effective intervention to limit necrosis of ischaemic skin flaps after mastectomy. The purpose of this study was to evaluate outcomes of HBOT in the largest series of patients to date with mastectomy flap ischaemia.

Methods: A retrospective analysis was performed of 50 breasts requiring HBOT for mastectomy flap ischaemia. The severity of the ischaemia or necrosis was evaluated by four independent observers using the skin ischaemia necrosis (SKIN) score. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to assess associations between risk factors and re-operation.

Results: HBOT was started a median of 3 days (range 1-23) after surgery and continued for a median of 12 sessions (range 6-22). The breast SKIN surface area scores (n = 175 observations by the independent observers) improved in 34% (of observations) and the depth scores deteriorated in 42% (both P < 0.01). Both the surface area and depth scores were associated with the need for re-operation: higher scores, reflecting more severe necrosis of the mastectomy flap, were associated with increased need for re-operation. Twenty-nine breasts (58%) recovered without additional operation. Preoperative radiotherapy (OR 7.2, 95% CI 1.4-37.3) and postoperative infection (OR 15.4, 95% CI 2.6-89.7) were risk factors for re-operation in multivariate analyses.

Conclusions: In this case series, the surface area of the breast affected by ischaemia decreased during HBOT, and most breasts (58%) did not undergo an additional operation. A randomised control trial is needed to confirm or refute the possibility that HBOT improves outcome in patients with mastectomy flap ischaemia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number33761535
Pages (from-to)2-9
Number of pages8
JournalDiving and Hyperbaric Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


  • Necrosis
  • Nipple
  • Outcome
  • Radiotherapy
  • Skin
  • Surgery

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