Skin flaps—used to cover defects or areas of tissue loss—require post-operative monitoring to ensure their viability, and failures frequently arise from circulatory complications. Researchers at the National Research Council Canada (Ottawa, ON, Canada) have demonstrated that near-infrared (NIR) spectral imaging can help surgeons assess skin flaps noninvasively both during and after surgery.1 The technique can be used to detect and localize complications related to blood supply, and to provide real-time feedback so the surgeon can address the problem.
The research shows that "using estimates of tissue hemoglobin oxygen saturation, imaging measurements made during surgery and in the early post-operative period are highly predictive of the outcome of the flap tissue with specificities and sensitivities exceeding 85%," according to Mike Sowa, who led the research.
1. M.G. Sowa et al., J. Near Infrared Spectrosc., 20, 5, 601–615 (2012).