A Survey of Microvascular Protocols for Lower Extremity Free Tissue Transfer II: Postoperative Care

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Due to the complex, and often tenuous nature of microsurgical tissue transfer, postoperative monitoring of free tissue flaps plays a vital role in the management of such patients. Some of the more challenging reconstructive problems occur in patients with lower extremity trauma, yet to date, no preferred protocol exists for the postoperative care of lower extremity free flaps. The present study sought to evaluate and assess current preferences in monitoring following lower extremity free tissue transfer. Members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) were surveyed with regard to their choice for postoperative monitoring and return to dependent positioning (“dangling”). The results demonstrate that there is some agreement among surgeons regarding the optimal means for postoperative monitoring. Most rely on clinical observation in addition to conventional Doppler probe for an average of 4.8 days. Most surgeons follow their own flaps in addition to relying on the residents and nursing staff. The study also notes a wide variety in the times and frequencies at which dangling of the extremity was commenced. Most respondents initiate dangling within 2 weeks of surgery and begin with only 1 to 5 minutes per session.

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