Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) versus Hyperspectral Imaging (HSI) to Detect Flap Failure in Reconstructive Surgery: A Systematic Review

A.A.M.A. Lindelauf*, A.G. Saelmans, S.M.J. van Kuijk, R.R.W.J. van der Hulst, R.M. Schols*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review

2 Citations (Web of Science)


Rapid identification of possible vascular compromise in free flap reconstruction to minimize time to reoperation improves achieving free flap salvage. Subjective clinical assessment, often complemented with handheld Doppler, is the golden standard for flap monitoring; but this lacks consistency and may be variable. Non-invasive optical methods such as near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and hyperspectral imaging (HSI) could facilitate objective flap monitoring. A systematic review was conducted to compare NIRS with HSI in detecting vascular compromise in reconstructive flap surgery as compared to standard monitoring. A literature search was performed using PubMed and Embase scientific database in August 2021. Studies were selected by two independent reviewers. Sixteen NIRS and five HSI studies were included. In total, 3662 flap procedures were carried out in 1970 patients using NIRS. Simultaneously; 90 flaps were performed in 90 patients using HSI. HSI and NIRS flap survival were 92.5% (95% CI: 83.3-96.8) and 99.2% (95% CI: 97.8-99.7). Statistically significant differences were observed in flap survival (p = 0.02); flaps returned to OR (p = 0.04); salvage rate (p < 0.01) and partial flap loss rate (p < 0.01). However, no statistically significant difference was observed concerning flaps with vascular crisis (p = 0.39). NIRS and HSI have proven to be reliable; accurate and user-friendly monitoring methods. However, based on the currently available literature, no firm conclusions can be drawn concerning non-invasive monitoring technique superiority
Original languageEnglish
Article number65
Number of pages18
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • free flap
  • near-infrared spectroscopy
  • hyperspectral imaging
  • flap failure
  • flap loss
  • tissue oxygenation
  • non-invasive monitoring

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