Post-operative monitoring of free muscle transfers by Laser Doppler Imaging: A prospective study
PurposeDespite different existing methods, monitoring of free muscle transfer is still challenging. In the current study we evaluated our clinical setting regarding monitoring of such tissues, using a recent microcirculation-imaging camera (EasyLDI) as an additional tool for detection of perfusion incompetency. Patients and methodsThis study was performed on seven patients with soft tissue defect, who underwent reconstruction with free gracilis muscle. Beside standard monitoring protocol (clinical assessment, temperature strips, and surface Doppler), hourly EasyLDI monitoring was performed for 48 hours. Thereby a baseline value (raised flap but connected to its vascular bundle) and an ischaemia perfusion value (completely resected flap) were measured at the same point. ResultsThe mean age of the patients, mean baseline value, ischaemia value perfusion were 48.0013.42 years, 49.31 +/- 17.33 arbitrary perfusion units (APU), 9.87 +/- 4.22 APU, respectively. The LDI measured values in six free muscle transfers were compatible with hourly standard monitoring protocol, and normalized LDI values significantly increased during time (P<0.001, r=0.412). One of the flaps required a return to theatre 17 hours after the operation, where an unsalvageable flap loss was detected. All normalized LDI values of this flap were under the ischaemia perfusion level and the trend was significantly descending during time (P<0.001, r=-0.870). ConclusionDue to the capability of early detection of perfusion incompetency, LDI may be recommended as an additional post-operative monitoring device for free muscle flaps, for early detection of suspected failing flaps and for validation of other methods. (c) 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Microsurgery 35:528-535, 2015.