Projected augmented reality in DIEP flap breast reconstruction: Projecting perforators on the skin using dynamic infrared thermography

Eva L Meier, Dietmar J O Ulrich, et al.
Projected augmented reality in DIEP flap breast reconstruction: Projecting perforators on the skin using dynamic infrared thermography
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Abstract

Background: Dynamic infrared thermography (DIRT) is a quick and non-invasive technique for perforator mapping in free flaps that provides real-time information. After a cold challenge, areas best supplied with blood become visible hotspots on color-coded maps, indicating perforators. This study presents a proof of principle for a new and innovative feature of DIRT, where projected augmented reality is used to directly display thermal images on the patient's abdomen prior to the deep inferior epigastric artery perforator (DIEP) flap breast reconstruction.

Methods: A self-aligning projection device prototype (Anatomy Projector) equipped with an integrated thermal camera was used to obtain thermal information and project the color-coded map directly on the patient's abdomen before DIEP flap breast reconstruction. Projected DIRT hotspots were verified using a hand-held Doppler, and compared to the vascularity on computed tomography angiography (CTA), and intraoperative perforator measurements following a Cartesian grid.

Results: A total of 514 DIRT hotspots were projected in 50 patients, among them 97.3% could be verified using Doppler. The positive predictive value for CTA was 74.5%. Intraoperative measurements yielded 132 perforators in 71 flaps, among them 75 perforators (56.8%) correlated with projected DIRT hotspots, and half of them (54.7%) appeared within the first 5 emerging hotspots.

Conclusion: This study showed that real-time display of thermal data in DIEP flap breast reconstruction is feasible via projected augmented reality. Projection facilitates convenient marking of hotspots, and a high resemblance to Doppler and CTA data was observed. Further research should assess the added value of projecting thermal images intraoperatively and in other fields of plastic surgery.

Read the article here: Projected augmented reality in DIEP flap breast reconstruction: Projecting perforators on the skin using dynamic infrared thermography

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