Color Doppler ultrasound (CDUS) has not been routinely used in plastic and reconstructive surgery. Barriers to use have included large, cumbersome equipment, low-definition images, cost, and availability. In addition, programs in plastic surgery have not included training with ultrasound (US); thus, many current-day practitioners are unfamiliar with and reluctant to use this technology. Nevertheless, recent studies have demonstrated the utility of US in surgical planning. With the miniaturization, clearer imaging, and decreased costs of the latest US technology, previous barriers to use have largely been eliminated.
Fifty-six patients scheduled for either reconstructive or aesthetic surgery were evaluated preoperatively and/or intraoperatively by a single surgeon with the linear 12-4 probe of a Philips Lumify CDUS device (Philips, Reedsville, Penn). For patients undergoing flap reconstruction, potential donor sites were imaged in order to locate the largest perforator. For patients undergoing abdominal procedures, intraoperative visualization of the abdominal muscular layers was used for the delivery of anesthesia during transversus abdominis plane block. Lastly, the superficial fascial system (SFS) was subjectively evaluated in all preoperative patients.
For flap reconstruction, 11 patients were preoperatively examined with CDUS in order to locate the largest perforators prior to perforator flap reconstruction. Flaps studied included the deep inferior epigastric perforator, anterolateral thigh, tensor fascia lata, thoracodorsal artery perforator, superior gluteal artery perforator, and the gracilis musculocutaneous. Color Doppler ultrasound findings were confirmed intraoperatively for all cases (100%). In 2 (18.2%) of 11 cases, CDUS identified perforators not detected by computed tomography angiography. Twenty-five patients undergoing either abdominoplasty or deep inferior epigastric perforator flap reconstruction had successful intraoperative visualization of the abdominal wall muscular layers, thus allowing administration of transversus abdominis plane blocks by the operating surgeon. Twenty patients undergoing body contouring surgery had preoperative visualization of the SFS. The SFS was found to be varied not only among different patients but also within individual patients.
The newest, miniaturized CDUS technology has a variety of applications that may improve patient outcomes and experience in plastic surgery. Our observations require further investigation to quantify the perceived benefits of this new technology.