Vascular Occlusion in a Porcine Flap Model: Effects on Blood Cell Concentration and Oxygenation

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Venous congestion in skin flaps is difficult to detect. This study evaluated the ability of tissue viability imaging (TiVi) to measure changes in the concentration of red blood cells (CRBC), oxygenation, and heterogeneity during vascular provocations in a porcine fasciocutaneous flap model.


In 5 pigs, cranial gluteal artery perforator flaps were raised (8 flaps in 5 pigs). The arterial and venous blood flow was monitored with ultrasonic flow probes. CRBC, tissue oxygenation, and heterogeneity in the skin were monitored with TiVi during baseline, 50% and 100% venous occlusion, recovery, 100% arterial occlusion and final recovery, thereby simulating venous and arterial occlusion of a free fasciocutaneous flap. A laser Doppler probe was used as a reference for microvascular perfusion in the flap.


During partial and complete venous occlusion, increases in CRBC were seen in different regions of the flap. They were more pronounced in the distal part. During complete arterial occlusion, CRBC decreased in all but the most distal parts of the flap. There were also increases in tissue oxygenation and heterogeneity during venous occlusion.


TiVi measures regional changes in CRBC in the skin of the flap during arterial and venous occlusion, as well as an increase in oxygenated hemoglobin during venous occlusion that may be the result of reduced metabolism and impaired delivery of oxygen to the tissue. TiVi may provide a promising method for measuring flap viability because it is hand-held, easy to-use, and provides spatial information on venous congestion.

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