Reliability of Color Doppler Ultrasound Imaging for the Assessment of Anterolateral Thigh Flap Perforators: A Prospective Study of 30 Perforators

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Summary:Despite numerous advantages, the anterolateral thigh perforator flap suffers from the variable position and nature of its perforators. The aim of the authors’ study was to assess the reliability of preoperative color Doppler ultrasound imaging for the exploration of perforator location and course of anterolateral thigh perforator flaps. A prospective cohort study involving patients for whom head and neck reconstruction was planned with thin anterolateral thigh perforator flaps was conducted. Each patient underwent a color Doppler ultrasound exploration of the thighs, in the operating room, immediately before surgery. The sonographer was the surgeon who raised the flaps. Perforators were sought according to surgical needs, and the same location protocol was followed for all of the cases, using an orthonormal coordinate system to report the passages of the perforators through the vastus lateralis aponeurosis. Between January of 2016 and January of 2017, 22 thin anterolateral thigh perforator flaps were successfully harvested. Thirty perforators were located and used. The median distance between the preoperative color Doppler ultrasound planning and the final location of the perforators was 5 mm, statistically smaller than a 10-mm threshold (p = 0.002). Color Doppler ultrasound effectively predicted the nature of the perforators in 90 percent of the cases. The median duration for perforator color Doppler ultrasound location was 3 minutes, statistically shorter than 10 minutes (p = 0.0001). Preoperative color Doppler ultrasound seems to be reliable, accurate, and compatible with a quick routine assessment during patient setup for the elevation of thin anterolateral thigh perforator flaps.CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:Diagnostic, II.

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