Head and neck cancer accounts for 3 to 5% of all cancers in the United States. Primary or salvage surgeries are extensive and often lead to major head and neck defects that require complex reconstructions with local, regional, or free tissue transfer flaps. Knowledge of tissue blood flow (BF) changes after free tissue transfer may enable surgeons to predict the failure of flap thrombosis at an early stage. This study used our recently developed noncontact diffuse correlation spectroscopy to monitor dynamic BF changes in free flaps without getting in contact with the targeted tissue. Eight free flaps were elevated in patients with head and neck cancer; one of the flaps failed. Multiple BF measurements probing the transferred tissue were performed during and post the surgical operation. Postoperative BF values were normalized to the intraoperative baselines (assigning '1') for the calculation of relative BF change (rBF). The rBF changes over the seven successful flaps were 1.89 ± 0.15, 2.26 ± 0.13, and 2.43 ± 0.13 (mean ± standard error) respectively on postoperative days 2, 4, and 7. These postoperative values were significantly higher than the intraoperative baseline values (p < 0.001), indicating a gradual recovery of flap vascularity after the tissue transfer. By contrast, rBF changes observed from the unsuccessful flap were 1.14 and 1.34 respectively on postoperative days 2 and 4, indicating a less flow recovery. Measurement of BF recovery after flap anastomosis holds the potential to act early to salvage ischemic flaps.
Chong Huang, Jeffrey P. Radabaugh, Rony K. Aouad, Yu Lin, Thomas J. Gal, Amit B. Patel, Joseph Valentino, Yu Shang, and Guoqiang Yu, "Noncontact diffuse optical assessment of blood flow changes in head and neck free tissue transfer flaps (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 9689, Photonic Therapeutics and Diagnostics XII, 96891V (Presented at SPIE BiOS: February 13, 2016; Published: 27 April 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2207934.4828143237001.
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