Background: Indocyanine green angiography (ICG-A) has been widely applied for intraoperative flap assessment in DIEP flap breast reconstruction. This study aims to analyze the clinical outcome and comprehensively review protocols of this field. A systematic review was conducted in MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane CENTRAL databases until September 15, 2022.
Results: A total of 22 studies were enrolled in the review, among five studies with 1021 patients included in the meta-analysis. The protocols of ICG-A assessment of DIEP flap varied among studies. According to the pooled results, the incidence of postoperative fat necrosis was 10.89% (50 of 459 patients) with ICG-A and 21.53% (121 of 562 patients) with clinical judgment. The risk for postoperative fat necrosis was significantly lower in patients with intraoperative ICG-A than without (RR 0.47 95% CI 0.29-0.78, p = .004, I2 = 51%). Reoperation occurred in 5 of 48 patients (10.42%) in the ICG-A group and in 21 of 64 patients (32.82%) in the control group summarized from reports in two studies. The risk for reoperation was lower in the ICG-A group than in the control group (RR 0.41 95% CI 0.18-0.93, p = .03, I2 = 0%).
Other complications, including flap loss, seroma, hematoma, dehiscence, mastectomy skin necrosis, and infection, were comparable between the two groups. Heterogeneities among studies were acceptable. No significant influence of specific studies was identified in sensitivity analysis. ICG-A is an accurate and reliable way to identify problematic perfusion of DIEP flaps during breast reconstruction. Protocols of ICG-A differed in current studies. Intraoperative ICG-A significantly decreases the rate of fat necrosis and reoperation in patients undergoing DIEP breast reconstruction. The synthesized results should be interpreted sensibly due to the sample size limitation. RCTs on the outcomes and high-quality studies for an optimized ICG-A protocol are still needed in the future