What Can Computed Tomography Scans of the Thorax Show after Breast Surgery?

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Afsaneh Alikhassi
Nasrin Ahmadinejad
Marzieh Lashkari
Hedieh Akbari


Scar, seroma, computed tomography scan, breast conserving surgery, modified radical mastectomy


Background: Postoperative breast abnormalities after breast conserving surgery or modified radical mastectomy are frequently overlooked and inaccurately assessed or reported using multidetector computed tomography (MDCT). These inaccurate results may have legal ramifications for the clinicians, cause patients avoidable anxiety, and lead to additional unnecessary diagnostic follow-up testing and costs.

Methods: The patients with a history of breast cancer who had undergone breast-conserving surgery or modified radical mastectomy up to 6 months prior to undergoing a thoracic MDCT scan consented and enrolled in this study. These patients underwent a thoracic MDCT scan either because of respiratory or cardiac clinical symptoms or as part of breast cancer staging.

Results: Forty women were included in this study. Different postoperative breast changes observed on thoracic MDCT scans including fibrous scar tissue, fat necrosis, seroma, abscess, hematoma, and recurrent and residual tumor were described.

Conclusions: MDCT scans offer sufficient evidence in many postoperative cases to allow a confident diagnosis. General radiologists who review thoracic MDCT scans should know how to characterize breast lesions incidentally found on MDCT scans after breast surgeries. This information would enhance the value of the radiologist’s report for appropriate case management.

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