The Role of Fluorescent Angiography in Free Flap Reconstruction of the Head and Neck

Farshid Taghizadeh, Scott Troob, Mark K. Wax

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Highlight the use of fluorescent angiography in free flap reconstruction of the head and neck. Qualify how fluorescent angiography can be selectively added to management paradigms for head and neck free flap reconstruction. Methods: Retrospective chart review of 993 free flaps completed from the time the SPY Elite® system first became available at our institution between September 2013, until August 2020. Cases that used the SPY Elite® system were grouped into three broad categories: evaluation during initial flap harvest while still attached to the donor site, evaluation after anastomosis in the head and neck area, and evaluation post-operatively for questionable flap viability. Results: The SPY Elite® system was used in 64 cases. Forty flaps were evaluated intraoperatively during initial harvest and before anastomosis to the head and neck area. Of these, 20 had signs of poor perfusion of the entire skin paddle, 12 had large myogenous or skin flaps with questionable perfusion of the distal aspect, and 8 were evaluated for other reasons. In this group the use of SPY Elite® changed the management of the patient in 20 cases (50%). Ten flaps were evaluated intraoperatively after anastomosis to the head and neck to ascertain adequate flow to the entire flap. In this group management was changed in two (20%). Fourteen flaps were evaluated 3–5 days post operatively due to suspected failure of a component. In five cases (36%), the use of SPY Elite® determined management with either trimming or discarding the flap. Conclusion: Assessment of flap perfusion via fluorescent angiography during initial flap harvest or when flap compromise is suspected post-operatively can guide decision making in free flap reconstruction of the head and neck and can be added to existing planning and management paradigms. Level of Evidence: 4 Laryngoscope, 2022.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • fluorescent angiography
  • free flap
  • head and neck reconstruction
  • SPY Elite®

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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