Introduction: Immediate post-mastectomy breast reconstruction offers benefits; however, complications can compromise outcomes. Intraoperative indocyanine green fluorescence angiography (ICGFA) may mitigate perfusion-related complications (PRC); however, its interpretation remains subjective. Here, we examine and develop methods for ICGFA quantification, including machine learning (ML) algorithms for predicting complications.

Methods: ICGFA video recordings of flap perfusion from a previous study of patients undergoing nipple-sparing mastectomy (NSM) with either immediate or staged immediate (delayed by a week due to perfusion insufficiency) reconstructions were analysed. Fluorescence intensity time series data were extracted, and perfusion parameters were interrogated for overall/regional associations with postoperative PRC. A naïve Bayes ML model was subsequently trained on a balanced data subset to predict PRC from the extracted meta-data.

Results: The analysable video dataset of 157 ICGFA featured females (average age 48 years) having oncological/risk-reducing NSM with either immediate (n=90) or staged immediate (n=26) reconstruction. For those delayed, peak brightness at initial ICGFA was lower (p<0.001) and significantly improved (both quicker-onset and brighter p=0.001) one week later. The overall PRC rate in reconstructed patients (n=116) was 11.2%, with such patients demonstrating significantly dimmer (overall, p=0.018, centrally, p=0.03, and medially, p=0.04) and slower-onset (p=0.039) fluorescent peaks with shallower slopes (p=0.012) than uncomplicated patients with ICGFA. Importantly, such relevant parameters were converted into a whole field of view heatmap potentially suitable for intraoperative display. ML predicted PRC with 84.6% sensitivity and 76.9% specificity.

Conclusion: Whole breast quantitative ICGFA assessment reveals statistical associations with PRC that are potentially exploitable via ML.

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