Date: August 2021.
Source: BMC Women’s Health 21, 323 (2021).
Background: A proportion of women undergoing mastectomy for breast cancer choose to undergo breast reconstruction. Evidence suggests that women’s preparedness for this surgery is low and that this may contribute to feelings of unmatched expectations and anxiety. There is substantial interest in decision-aids to remedy this. This study explores the incorporation of digitally rendered three-dimensional images into pre-operative counselling sessions as a means of enhancing patient preparedness.
Materials and Methods: A database of three-dimensional images was produced showing both optimal and sub-optimal aesthetic outcome, matched to participant on the basis of type of surgical reconstruction, body habitus, and skin tone. Women undergoing mastectomy for breast cancer followed by immediate reconstruction were targeted for inclusion. Participants interacted with image software during pre-operative counselling sessions by viewing, rotating, and zooming in/out to gain a more in-depth appreciation of post-operative aesthetic outcome. Semi-structured face-to-face interviews followed thereafter. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, coded, and themes identified.
Results: Eight semi-structured interviews took place. The major emergent theme was ‘increased preparedness’ with subthemes including ‘expectation management’, ‘software interaction’, and ‘enhanced realism’. There were no prohibitively negative emotions after interacting with images. Women reported gaining ‘more of a perspective’ and feeling ‘more informed’ after viewing images. They also valued the enhanced interactivity and better appreciation of reconstructed breast symmetry that viewing three-dimensional images offered when compared to viewing two-dimensional photographs. Finally, women also commented that three-dimensional images were more realistic.
Conclusions: Results suggest that incorporation of three-dimensional images into pre-operative counselling sessions prior to breast reconstruction, is a fairly simple yet effective method of enhancing patient preparedness prior to surgery. Women particularly valued the ability to use the software to generate a more realistic idea of what to expect after their operation. Future work should focus on better understanding any quantifiable benefit from incorporating three-dimensional images routinely into pre-operative decision-making.

Article: Improving preparedness prior to reconstructive breast surgery via inclusion of 3D images during pre-operative counselling: a qualitative analysis.
Authors: Alan D McCrorie, Aislinn M Begley, Jingwen J Chen, Noleen K McCorry, Glenda Paget, Stuart A McIntosh. The Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research, Queen’s University Belfast, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 7AE, N Ireland, UK.