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Monitoring Free Flaps Using the Laser Doppler Flowmeter: Five-Year Experience

Yuen James C. M.D.; Feng, Zuliang M.D
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: January 2000
Articles: PDF Only

Over a 5-year period, 232 microvascular compositetissue transfers to the head and neck, trunk, and extremities were monitored using the laser Doppler flowmeter. Thirteen free flaps (5.6 percent) developed vascular complications, all within 4 days after surgery. The laser Doppler flowmeter detected vascular compromise in all cases with no false positives or negatives. Failure to monitor the flap according to protocol by nursing staff occurred in one patient, which led to a delay in detection of venous compromise and subsequent flap loss. The salvage rate was 69.2 percent, leading to an overall flap viability of 98.3 percent. Our series of free-flap monitoring using the laser Doppler flowmeter is the largest reported to date. Review of the English literature shows consistent support by numerous clinical series for the use of the laser Doppler as a valuable postoperative monitor after free-flap transfers. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 105: 55, 2000.)

From the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Received for publication March 23, 1999; revised May 10, 1999.

James C. Yuen, M.D.

4301 W. Markham, Slot 720

Little Rock, Ark. 72205

©2000American Society of Plastic Surgeons