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Incisions for cochlear implant flaps and superficial skin temperature. Skin temperature/blood circulation in CI flaps.

  • Pau, Hans Wilhelm
  • Sievert, Uwe
  • Graumüller, Sylke
  • Wild, Ernst
Published Article
Otolaryngologia polska = The Polish otolaryngology
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2004
PMID: 15603379


Healing and integration of a cochlear implant is largely influenced by good blood circulation in the covering skin, which, on the other hand, is closely correlated to skin temperature. Measuring superficial flap temperatures by thermography is an easy way to get some clues about the corresponding blood supply. These data should allow some implications for the design of skin flaps in cochlear implant surgery. In 15 patients thermography was carried out prior to and after cochlear implantation, using the Agema 550 Thermovision system. It was evident, that the anatomic courses of the major superficial arteries were represented by areas of increased temperature. The pattern of temperature distribution may allow some conclusions concerning site and shape of surgical incisions. From our data we concluded, that most types of incisions do not interfere too much with the arterial blood supply. However, some types like the extended retroauricular C-incision may eventually cause problems. Our data suggest, that the straight or slightly curved vertical retroauricular incision causes the least impairment of blood circulation. After surgery, directly along the incisions (and later along the scars) temperature was diminished, indicating reduced blood circulation. In our series, the thickness of the implant did not impede blood circulation significantly. So far, we could not examine patients with local circulation disorders. Probably local scars, skin atrophies, angiopathies etc. may present typical patterns of temperature distribution, which require individual design of skin flaps. Thermography is an easy method which can give impressions of local blood circulation in skin flaps. If the courses of the major arteries and their branches are respected, blood circulation within the flap should not be problematic. Thermography is likely to help designing optimal flaps in cases with impeded blood circulation e.g. by pre-existing scar formations.

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