An Algorithm for Early Aggressive Treatment of Frostbite with Limb Salvage Directed by Triple-Phase Scanning

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Frostbite injuries have traditionally been treated with expectant observation. With the exception of early blister aspiration tissues are allowed to demarcate before definitive debridement is accomplished. Triple-phase bone scanning has been used to define the extent of fatally damaged tissues in an attempt to allow for early debridement and wound closure. We suggest extending this technology to assess injury and direct debridement in patients for whom early aggressive salvage attempts are indicated. We present two cases in which triple-phase scanning was used to direct early debridement for aggressive limb salvage with flap reconstruction. Bone, ligament, tendon, and nerve were preserved and covered with vascularized tissue before the onset of frank necrosis. Postoperative scans reveal revascularization of these tissues. An algorithm incorporating triple-phase scanning for the evaluation and treatment of frostbite is presented. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 102: 1069, 1998.)

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