The Plastic Surgery Foundation
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Grants We Funded

Grant applicants for the 2022 cycle requested a total of over $2.9 million dollars. The PSF Study Section subcommittees of Basic & Translational Research and Clinical Research evaluated 115 grant applications on the following topics:

The PSF awarded research grants totaling almost $550,000 to support 19 plastic surgery research proposals.

ASPS/PSF leadership is committed to continuing to provide high levels of investigator-initiated research support to ensure that plastic surgeons have the needed research resources to be pioneers and innovators in advancing the practice of medicine.

Research Abstracts

Search The PSF database to have easy access to full-text grant abstracts from past PSF-funded research projects 2003 to present. All abstracts are the work of the Principal Investigators and were retrieved from their PSF grant applications. Several different filters may be applied to locate abstracts specific to a particular focus area or PSF funding mechanism.

Rapid Detection of Vessel Occlusion in Free Tissue Transfer

Principal Investigator
Timothy King MD, PhD


University of Wisconsin-Madison (Board of Regents University of Wisconsin System)

Funding Mechanism
Pilot Research Grant

Focus Area
Microsurgery, Technology Based

Plastic surgeons rely on free tissue transfer for complex reconstructions. The greatest risk in free tissue transfer is occlusion of the blood vessels supplying the tissue. Vessel occlusion occurs in up to five percent of free tissue transfers, potentially leading to complete tissue loss. Fortunately, if blood flow is restored within four hours of occlusion the tissue transfer can be salvaged. Methods exist to detect occlusion, but they are limited by low sensitivity, poor specificity, delay in detection, and cost.

Monitoring of metabolites inside the transferred tissue offers a new frontier in the detection of vessel occlusion. These metabolites provide continuous updates of tissue perfusion. We demonstrated in a pilot study that tissue glucose is 97% sensitive for vessel occlusion, detecting tissue ischemia within one hour of the occlusion. Cost and technical barriers prevented previous implementation of glucose monitoring in clinical practice. Due to advances in biosensor design, inexpensive and reliable continuous glucose monitors are now commercially available.

We hypothesize that continuous glucose monitors can provide rapid and accurate detection of vessel occlusion following free tissue transfer. To test our hypothesis, we will use a continous glucose monitor to measure tissue glucose levels following vessel occlusion in a rodent model of free tissue transfer. Our study will also identify the time delay between vessel occlusion and detection of tissue ischemia. Further, we will determine the sensitivity and specificity of specific glucose thresholds for vessel occlusion.

This study investigates the use of glucose monitoring to detect vessel occlusion rapidly and accurately, allowing surgeons to repair the occlusion and salvage the tissue transfer. This research may dramatically improve patient outcomes after free tissue transfer, changing both how surgeons monitor for vessel occlusion and eliminating the devastating consequences of undetected occlusion.

Timothy W. King, MD, PhD is an Assistant Professor and the Director of Research for the Division of Plastic Surgery at The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. After earning a BS and MS in Bioengineering at Texas A&M University, he received his MD/PhD degree at The University of Texas-Houston. His PhD research was completed in the Department of Plastic Surgery at MD Anderson Cancer Center where he studied angiogenesis in a tissue engineering model resulting in two U.S. patents. His plastic surgery residency was at the NYU Medical Center Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery followed by a fellowship in Pediatric Plastic Surgery at Northwestern University Children’s Memorial Hospital. Dr. King’s research involves the development of engineered constructs for use in wound healing and reconstructive plastic surgery. He is also conducts translational research to improve microvascular free flap monitoring.