Venous Flow Coupler in Head and Neck Free Flap Reconstruction

Scott H. Troob, Quinn Self, Deniz Gerecci, Macgregor Hodgson, Javier González-Castro, Daniel Petrisor, Mark K. Wax

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: To describe the utility of venous flow couplers in monitoring free tissue flaps in the immediate postoperative setting. Study Design: Retrospective case series. Setting: Otolaryngology department at a single tertiary care institution. Methods: A retrospective case series of free flap reconstructions in which venous flow couplers were employed to supplement flap monitoring. All free flap cases performed over the past 4 years were reviewed. Inclusion criteria were venous flow coupler and arterial flow Doppler monitored for 5 days postoperatively. Results: From July 2014 through May 2018, the venous flow coupler was used with the arterial flow Doppler and clinical monitoring in 228 cases. Eleven cases did not meet criteria for inclusion; thus, 217 cases were analyzed. Twenty cases (9.2%) returned to the operating room with concern for flap compromise, and 16 were salvaged. The combination of venous flow coupler and arterial flow Doppler identified 19 of these flaps. Venous flow couplers identified 5 compromised flaps before there was an arterial signal change, and all were salvaged. Additionally, there was a 24.1% false-positive rate when 2 venous flow couplers were used in parallel. For the venous flow coupler, the positive predictive value was 64.3% and the negative predictive value, 98.9%. The false-positive rate in the series was 5.1%. The sensitivity was 90% and the specificity, 94.9%. Conclusion: The venous flow coupler is able to detect venous thrombosis in the absence of arterial thrombosis and may contribute to improved flap salvage rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)574-579
Number of pages6
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • flow coupler
  • free flap
  • monitoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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