Complications of partial flap necrosis contribute substantially to morbidity in patients who undergo head and neck reconstructive surgery.
To assess the usefulness of clinical findings, intraoperative fluorescein angiography, and intraoperative indocyanine green angiography (ICGA) for evaluation of flap skin paddle perfusion in patients undergoing oromandibular reconstruction who are at high risk of partial skin paddle necrosis.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Retrospective medical record review from May 21, 1996, to May 27, 2015, at a tertiary care academic medical center. Participants were 73 patients who underwent reconstruction of through-and-through defects of the mucosa, mandible, and skin using fibula free flaps that contained large bilobed skin paddles.
Main Outcomes and Measures
The rates of partial skin paddle necrosis and revision reconstructive surgery.
The rates of partial flap necrosis were 8% (n = 2) among 25 patients in whom the skin paddle was trimmed based on ICGA and 33% (n = 16) among 48 patients in whom the skin paddle was trimmed according to clinical findings (P = .02). The rates of revision reconstructive surgery were 20% (5 of 25) when flap skin paddles were trimmed using ICGA and 42% (20 of 48) when trimmed per clinical findings (P = .06).
Conclusions and Relevance
The use of ICGA may reduce the risk of partial skin flap necrosis in free flaps used in patients undergoing head and neck reconstruction who are at high risk of developing flap necrosis. Indocyanine green angiography imaging should be considered in any flap in which skin paddle viability is uncertain based on clinical findings and in patients in whom the skin paddle extends beyond the primary and adjacent angiosomes.
Level of Evidence