Blood Flow and Facial Repair

The Need

Improvised explosive devices have taken a devastating toll on America’s soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. 26% of battlefield wounds involve serious facial injuries, with 84% of these injuries due to explosive devices. Sadly, 58% of these injuries involved lacerations and open soft tissue wounds including loss of lips, ears, and noses. Similar injuries occur in the civilian population, primarily resulting from traffic accidents.

One of the most difficult areas of the face to reconstruct is the lips, because they represent a composite tissue of mucosa, skin and muscle. Our collaborator, Dr. Stephen Feinberg at the University of Michigan, is pioneering a new surgical grafting technique to restore lip tissue. A critical phase in this reconstruction is knowing when the grafts have developed sufficient blood supply to enable the reconstruction.

RMD’s Solution

RMD is developing an easy-to-use surgical probe that will enable craniomaxillofacial surgeons to noninvasively determine when the skin graft’s blood supply has fully developed. The surgeon simply touches the probe to the skin above the buried skin graft. Animal studies with a prototype device are ongoing in the laboratory of Dr. Feinberg at the University of Michigan.

In collaboration with craniomaxillo facial surgeons at the University of Michigan Medical Center, RMD is developing a near infrared probe to monitor vascularization of facial grafts.