Capsular contracture of the breast: Working towards a better classification using clinical and radiologic assessment

Alon Zahavi, Miri Levi Sklair, Dean D. Ad-El*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Breast reconstruction and augmentation have become a standard surgical treatment worldwide as advancements in medicine and technology enable safer and simpler procedures. A variety of implants is used to mimic a natural breast both in appearance and texture. The most common complication of such procedures is capsular contracture encircling the implant, occurring in approximately 10%. As to date, the contracture is mainly estimated by a physical examination of the breast, which is standardized according to the Baker score. METHODS: In a cross-sectional study, we compared the clinical assessment of capsular contractures to a radiologic thickness of the capsule, as evaluated by ultrasound (US) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A total of 20 patients, with 27 implants, were evaluated in the study. All patients were examined by a single senior plastic surgeon and divided into 4 groups according to their clinical Baker score estimation. Following, a US imaging of the implant with emphasis on capsular evaluation was performed. The MRI results, recently done prior to the study, were reevaluated in relation to capsular findings. RESULTS: Thirteen breasts had a clinical capsular contraction with a Baker score of I, 8 breasts with a Baker score of II, and 6 breasts with a Baker score of III-IV. The US and MRI images of breasts graded III-IV revealed a thickened capsule (mean of 2.39 mm by US and 2.62 mm by MRI) compared with the capsular imaging of the breasts with the lower clinical Baker scores (mean of 1.14 mm by US and 1.39 mm by MRI). These differences were statistically significant according to the Kruskal-Wallis test, with P values of 0.002 and 0.017, respectively. Both MRI and US studies revealed distinct appearance of the thickened capsule. CONCLUSION: It seems the capsular thickness as portrayed by US and MRI correlates well with the Baker scoring system and at the same time provides the physician with an objective and consistent evaluation. However, since clinical assessment can be difficult to interpret at times, objective-imaging modalities can be effectively used to assess capsular thickening in women with a clinical suspicion of capsular contraction. A revised classification of capsular contracture, taking into account the imaging of the capsule, is suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-251
Number of pages4
JournalAnnals of Plastic Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast
  • Capsular contracture
  • Classification
  • MRI
  • Ultrasound


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