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Patients with connective tissue diseases (CTD), or collagen vascular diseases, are at risk of potentially higher morbidity after surgical procedures. We aimed to investigate the complication profile in CTD versus non-CTD patients who underwent breast reconstruction on a national scale.
A retrospective analysis of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project NIS Database between 2010 and 2014 was conducted for patients 18 years or older admitted for immediate autologous or implant breast reconstruction. Connective tissue disease was defined as systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic sclerosis, scleroderma, Raynaud phenomenon, psoriatic arthritis, or sarcoidosis. Independent t test/Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney was used to compare continuous variables and Pearson χ2/Fischer exact test was used for categorical variables. Outcomes of interest were assessed using multivariable linear regressions for continuous variables and multivariable logistic regressions for categorical variables.
There were 19,496 immediate autologous breast reconstruction patients, with 357 CTD and 19,139 non-CTD patients (2010–2014). The CTD patients had higher postoperative complication rates for infection (2.8% vs 0.8%, P < 0.001), wound dehiscence (1.4% vs 0.4%, P = 0.019), and bleeding (hemorrhage and hematoma) (6.7% vs 3.5%, P < 0.001). After multivariable analysis, CTD remained an independent risk factor for bleeding (odds ratio [OR], 1.568; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.019–2.412). There were a total of 23,048 immediate implant breast reconstruction patients, with 431 CTD and 22,617 non-CTD patients (2010–2014). The CTD patients had a higher postoperative complication rate for wound dehiscence/complication (2.3% vs 0.6%, P < 0.001). They also experienced a longer length of stay (2.31 days vs 2.07 days, P < 0.001). After multivariable analysis, CTD remained an independent risk factor for wound dehiscence (OR, 4.084; 95% CI, 2.101–7.939) and increased length of stay by 0.050 days (95% CI, −0.081 to 0.181).
Connective tissue disease patients who underwent autologous breast reconstruction had significantly higher infection, wound dehiscence, and bleeding rates, and those who underwent implant breast reconstruction had significantly higher wound dehiscence rates. Connective tissue diseases appear to be an independent risk factor for bleeding and wound dehiscence in autologous and implant breast reconstruction, respectively. This information may help clinicians be aware of this increased risk when determining patients for reconstruction.

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