As an Associate Professor of Surgery for the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Dr. Kim is very academically active. He serves at the Principal Investigator (PI) for numerous clinical studies. One of his primary studies, the Mastectomy Reconstruction Outcomes Consortium (MROC), is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and prospectively examines patient-reported outcomes of the various methods of post-mastectomy breast reconstruction for women with a cancer diagnosis or genetic mutation/strong family history. The study brings together 11 leading cancer centers in the US and Canada and will include 7,000 breast reconstruction patients. Importantly, the study aims to examine long-term results of these operations, and subjects are tracked up to 4 years after surgery. The effects of race and ethnicity on breast reconstruction outcomes are also an outcome of interest for MROC.
Another of Dr. Kim’s prospective studies looks at the reconstructive, patient-reported, and aesthetic outcomes of breast reconstruction using a certain brand of acellular dermal matrix (Flex HD® Pliable™), a material that acts as a sling or hammock for added support of the breast during tissue expander reconstruction. Dr. Kim also mentors a group of first through fourth year Feinberg medical students who utilize validated databases to conduct surgical outcomes research. One of the main databases they employ is the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS-NSQIP) dataset, which contains demographic information and 30-day post-operative outcomes data on over 2 million patient in all surgical specialties. As the largest validated data set of its kind, NSQIP allows Dr. Kim students to examine topics such as how operative duration impacts the risk of post-operative infection, respiratory failure, or urinary tract infection. Recently, Dr. Kim’s manuscript looking at surgical duration and risk of venous thromboembolism (ie: blood clots) was accepted to the prestigious journal JAMA Surgery.
Another large, validated database Dr. Kim’s research fellows employ is the Tracking Operations and Outcomes for Plastic Surgeons (TOPS) dataset. This database pertains to plastic surgery only, and it is comprised of the American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS) member surgeons’ patient data. This allows Dr. Kim’s team to get a more granular, thorough look at the plastic surgery-specific outcomes that NSQIP does not necessarily cover (ie: complications such as hematoma, seroma, and dehiscence). A key paper of Dr. Kim’s derived from the TOPS database is entitled “Impact of Postoperative Antibiotic Prophylaxis Duration on Surgical Site Infections in Autologous Breast Reconstruction”.
Using both the NSQIP and TOPS databases together, Dr. Kim and his team were able to pioneer the Breast Reconstruction Risk Assessment Score (BRA Score). This risk calculator allows patients and clinicians alike to input a given patient’s pre-operative information (ie: smoking status, recent chemotherapy, BMI, etc) and view their expected chance of complications for the various modalities of breast reconstruction. The online platform for this seminal project is located at Brascore.org. and represents one of many achievements of Dr. Kim’s research enterprise.