Early Ambulation After Microsurgical Reconstruction of the Lower Extremity

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Abstract

Successful outcomes after microsurgical reconstruction of the lower extremity include timely return to ambulation. Some combination of physical examination, ViOptix tissue oxygen saturation monitoring, and the implantable venous Doppler have shown promise in increasing sensitivity of current flap monitoring. We have incorporated this system into our postoperative monitoring protocol in an effort to initiate earlier dependency protocols. A prospective analysis of 36 anterolateral thigh free flap and radial forearm flaps for lower extremity reconstruction was performed. Indications for reconstruction were acute and chronic wounds, as well as oncologic resection. Twenty-three patients were able to ambulate and 3 were able to dangle their leg on the first postoperative day. One flap showed early mottling that improved immediately after elevation. After reelevation and return to baseline, the dependency protocol was successfully implemented on postoperative day 3. All flaps went on to successful healing. Physical examination, implantable venous Doppler, and ViOptix can be used reliably as an adjunct to increase the sensitivity of detecting poorly performing flaps during the postoperative progression of dependency.

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