Adequate distal skin paddle perfusion is essential to preventing postoperative flap necrosis in head and neck reconstruction. A retrospective cohort study consistently of patients who underwent head and neck reconstruction with a supraclavicular artery island flap for any indication at a tertiary medical center from 2010 to 2018. The predictor variable was ICGA use. The primary outcome was rate of skin paddle necrosis. Secondary outcomes included rates of post-operative overall complications, dehiscence, fistula, and reoperation. Covariates included demographic, operative, flap perfusion assessment, and postoperative variables. Retrospective assessment of distal flap perfusion was performed on available ICGA video recordings. Descriptive and bivariate statistics were computed. Statistical significance was set at P ≤ .05.

Results: A total of 104 patients were included and ICGA was used in 23 cases. In 10 of these cases, flap trimming was performed due to concern of flap hypoperfusion on ICGA. The median relative distal flap perfusion was 16.7 ± 2.6% in trimmed flaps, compared to 35 ± 13.2% in untrimmed flaps. ICGA use was not associated with rate of skin paddle necrosis (P = .76).

Conclusions: ICGA is a viable method of assessing intraoperative supraclavicular artery island skin paddle perfusion and can help determine the need for distal flap trimming when tissue viability based on clinical findings alone is uncertain. ICGA use for skin paddles with uncertain perfusion on intraoperative clinical findings prevented a potential increase in postoperative necrosis compared to that of skin paddles with adequate perfusion on intraoperative clinical findings. Future studies are required to determine the minimum distal perfusion value that indicates hypoperfusion and the need for flap modification.

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