Noncontact diffuse optical assessment of blood flow changes in head and neck free tissue transfer flaps

Chong Huang, Jeffrey P. Radabaugh, Rony K. Aouad, Yu Lin, Thomas J. Gal, Amit B. Patel, Joseph Valentino, Yu Shang, Guoqiang Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


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 flaps were 1.14 and 1.34, respectively, on postoperative days 2 and 4, indicating less flow recovery. Measurement of BF recovery after flap anastomosis holds the potential to act early to salvage ischemic flaps.

Original languageEnglish
Article number075008
JournalJournal of Biomedical Optics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.


  • blood flow
  • diffuse correlation spectroscopy
  • free tissue flap
  • noncontact measurement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering


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