Laser-induced fluorescence of indocyanine green (ICG) is a new method for evaluating skin perfusion, which is superior to conventional fluorescein angiography. In a prospective clinical study ICG fluorescence video-angiography was used for the intraoperative evaluation of skin-flap perfusion. The results of ICG imaging were compared with clinical outcome 1 week postoperatively. Intraoperative ICG filling defects were always associated with delayed wound healing. In 50% of the patients, the regions of sloughing and epitheliolysis corresponded accurately to the regions of dye-filling deficits. All of the flaps without ICG filling defects healed primarily. These results suggest that ICG fluorescence is a sensitive tool for assessing nutritive blood flow in pedicled skin flaps with and without an axial vessel. Future clinical studies are required to establish critical threshold fluorescence indices that correlate with skin viability in the postoperative course.
Copyright 2002 The British Association of Plastic Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.