This paper explores the utility of reflective THz imaging to assess the viability of surgical flaps. Flap surgery is a technique where tissue is harvested from a donor site and moved to a recipient while keeping the blood supply intact. This technique is common in head and neck tumor resection surgery where the reconstruction of complex and sensitive anatomic structures is routine following the resection of large and/or invasive tumors. Successful flap surgery results in tissue that is sufficiently perfused with both blood and extracellular water. If insufficient fluid levels are maintained, the flap tissue becomes necrotic and must be excised immediately to prevent infection developing and spreading to the surrounding areas.
The goal of this work is to investigate the hydration of surgical flaps and correlate image features to successful graft outcomes. Advancement flaps were created on the abdomens of rat models. One rat model was labeled control and care was taken to ensure a successful flap outcome. The flap on the second rat was compromised with restricted blood flow and allowed to fail. The flaps of both rats were imaged once a day over the course of a week at which point the compromised flap had begun to show signs of necrosis. Significant differences in tissue water content were observed between rats over the experimental period. The results suggest that THz imaging may enable early assessment of flap viability.
Neha Bajwa, Shijun Sung, Warren Grundfest, and Zachary Taylor, "In situ monitoring of surgical flap viability using THz imaging
(Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 9706, Optical Interactions with Tissue and Cells XXVII, 97060A (Presented at SPIE BiOS: February 15, 2016; Published: 3 May 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2218572.4868462753001.
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