Predictive Capability of Near-Infrared Fluorescence Angiography in Submental Perforator Flap Survival

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Perforator flaps have become increasingly popular in reconstructive surgery, as patients experience less donor-site morbidity than with conventional musculocutaneous flaps. Previously, the authors' laboratory described the intraoperative use of near-infrared fluorescence angiography for patient-specific perforator flap design. This study evaluates the predictive capability of near-infrared fluorescence angiography for flap survival in submental flap reconstruction.


Near-infrared angiography was performed using indocyanine green at 0, 0.5, 24, 48, and 72 hours after surgery for flap creation in 12 pigs. A single perforator artery was preserved during flap creation based on location (central or noncentral) and dominance (dominant or nondominant). Venous drainage, arterial perfusion, and perfused area as a percentage of total flap area were analyzed. Clinical assessments of perfusion were compared with those made using near-infrared imaging and histology.


Use of near-infrared fluorescence angiography immediately after flap creation accurately predicted areas of perfusion at 72 hours (p = 0.0013), compared with the initial clinical assessment (p = 0.3085). Identification of necrosis by histology at 72 hours correlated with near-infrared findings of insufficient arterial perfusion immediately after flap creation. No statistically significant differences in perfusion metrics were detected based on location or dominance of the preserved perforator; however, flaps containing central perforators had a higher percentage perfused area than those with noncentral perforators.


The use of near-infrared angiography immediately after flap creation can predict areas of perfusion at 72 hours. This predictive capability may permit intraoperative revision of compromised flaps that have a high likelihood of failure.

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