Multiple perfusion assessment technologies exist to identify compromised microvascular free flaps. The effectiveness, operability, and cost of each technology vary. The authors investigated surgeon preference and clinical behavior with several perfusion assessment technologies.
A questionnaire was sent to members of the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery concerning perceptions and frequency of use of several technologies in varied clinical situations. Demographic information was also collected. Adjusted odds ratios were calculated using multinomial logistic regression accounting for clustering of similar practices within institutions/regions.
The questionnaire was completed by 157 of 389 participants (40.4 percent response rate). Handheld Doppler was the most commonly preferred free flap-monitoring technology (56.1 percent), followed by implantable Doppler (22.9 percent) and cutaneous tissue oximetry (16.6 percent). Surgeons were significantly more likely to opt for immediate take-back to the operating room when presented with a concerning tissue oximetry readout compared with a concerning handheld Doppler signal (OR, 2.82; p < 0.01), whereas other technologies did not significantly alter postoperative management more than simple handheld Doppler. Clinical decision making did not significantly differ by demographics, training, or practice setup.
Although most surgeons still prefer to use standard handheld Doppler for free flap assessment, respondents were significantly more likely to opt for immediate return to the operating room for a concerning tissue oximetry reading than an abnormal Doppler signal. This suggests that tissue oximetry may have the greatest impact on clinical decision making in the postoperative period.