Grant Application

Michael Hu, MD, UPMC Montefiore

Proposed Innovation

Patients who undergo surgery to repair trauma injuries or remove cancerous tumors in the head and neck area often have large wound areas that need to be covered or replaced in order to heal and restore function. A free flap — a large piece of tissue taken from one area of the body — is transplanted, using microvascular surgery to connect the blood vessels to the new site. During the first 48 hours after surgery, blood flow in these transplanted flaps must be carefully monitored to ensure a successful graft.

This project aims to create a simple and reliable system to monitor microvascular free flap patients during the critical post-operative period.

Improvements in Action

Through this innovative project, smartphones and tablet devices will be used to create a real-time monitoring system that members of the reconstructive surgery team can use to check circulation. The monitoring system will provide team members easy access to images and Doppler sound recordings via a secure network. Early and rapid detection of a failing graft will allow team members to take quick action to correct problems.

Intended Outcomes

Having access to a real-time monitoring system is expected to improve the critical monitoring needed following the graft transplant. This early and rapid detection of a graft failure will likely result in better outcomes, including salvaging the graft, saving patients a return trip to the operating room, and avoiding additional costly procedures.