Summary An accurate preoperative evaluation of the vascular anatomy of the abdominal wall is extremely valuable in improving the surgical strategy in abdominal perforator flaps. The multidetector-row computer tomography offers thin slice coverage of extended volumes with an extremely high spatial resolution. From October 2003 to December 2004, 66 female patients had breast reconstruction surgery in our department using the deep inferior epigastric artery perforator flap. Our multidetector-row computer tomography studies were performed using a 16-detector-row computer tomography scanner. The image assessment was carried out using the following protocol: we first identified the best three perforators from each side of the abdomen. Then we conducted a three-dimensional reconstruction of the abdomen by identifying exactly where the three best perforators emerged from the rectus abdominis fascia. We then transferred the data obtained from the image to the patient using a coordinate system. In addition, we also placed the dominant perforators in the patient by using a conventional hand-held Doppler. During the operation we compared intra-operative findings, Doppler results and computer tomography outcomes. Neither false positive nor false negative results were found in the computer tomography outcome. Multidetector-row computer tomography provides us with an easy method of interpreting the virtual anatomic dissection in three dimensions. It has high sensitivity and specificity and provides a good quality evaluation of the perforator vessels. This information allows reduction of operating time and safer performance of surgery. The multidetector-row computer tomography is a highly effective tool in the preoperative study of abdominal perforator flaps.