Green light photoplethysmography monitoring of free flaps

Neal D. Futran, Brendan C. Stack, Christopher Hollenbeak, John E. Scharf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Background: Monitoring strategies have been developed to address the issue of detecting postoperative free flap ischemia in an effort to permit intervention and flap salvage. No one existing noninvasive method has been widely accepted in a clinical setting. Green light photoplethysmography (GLP) uses a diode to transmit green light into a tissue. Reflected light from hemoglobin in dermal capillary red blood cells is analyzed as light intensity along a frequency spectrum. A pure peak signal (1-2 HZ) is identified and provides a way to distinguish between perfused and nonperfused tissue. Design: Prospective, blinded comparison. Subjects: Sixty of 72 consecutive patients considered for free flap reconstruction were enrolled in a protocol to evaluate the efficacy of GLP. Intervention: After free flap elevation, but before pedicle ligation, 120-second baseline measurements were obtained; 120- second measurements then occurred 5 minutes after the onset or release of individual venous or arterial occlusion. Signals were processed by fast Fourier transfer; a mean alternating current-direct current (AC/DC) ratio was cultivated for each signal. All data were analyzed in a blinded fashion. Results: The AC/DC ratio of GLP was statistically significant across all flap perfusion states (P<.001). Each condition resulted in a unique GLP signal within 5 minutes of manipulation of each vessel. Conclusions: Green light photoplethysmography with AC/DC ratio analysis provides a rapid, precise method with which to determine flap ischemia and can differentiate venous compromised and arterial compromised flaps almost immediately after the onset of an ischemic insult. It may provide a clinically useful tool for postoperative free flap monitoring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)659-662
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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