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    Papaverine is a topical vasodilator commonly used during microvascular surgery to inhibit undesired vasoconstriction. A previous national shortage of papaverine prompted evaluation of an alternative, effective vasodilator. This study aims to assess the experience of a solution of verapamil and nitroglycerin (VG) as a potential alternative pharmacologic vasodilator. Retrospective case series. Two tertiary academic medical centers. Among 298 patients, 306 consecutive free tissue transfers performed between 2014 and 2017 for head and neck defect reconstruction utilized a VG solution. Patient and flap characteristics, intraoperative patient and flap complications, and postoperative complications were reviewed. Diameter of the cervical recipient artery was measured intraoperatively before and after topical application of the VG solution in a subset of 43 patients (44 flaps). Flaps included fibula, radial forearm, subscapular system, and anterolateral thigh. In total, 3 (0.98%) flaps failed with varied etiology unrelated to the VG solution (venous thrombosis, arterial anastomosis thrombosis, physical damage to the perforator). Specific to topical application of the VG solution, the mean recipient artery diameter increased from 2.1 to 3.1 mm, a 48% increase (P < .01). There were no intraoperative cardiac events or complications attributable to the VG solution. We describe the use of a VG solution for pharmacologic vasodilation during microvascular free tissue transfer. Its use was associated with an acceptable incidence of adverse events, none of which were directly attributable to the VG solution. Apparent and sustained vasodilation was demonstrated. The VG solution represents a safe and efficacious alternative to papaverine in microvascular surgery.


    Rahul Seth, Karam W Badran, Elizabeth Cedars, Karolina Plonowska, Tania Benjamin, Satvir Saggi, P Daniel Knott, Chase M Heaton, Keith E Blackwell. Vasodilation by Verapamil-Nitroglycerin Solution in Microvascular Surgery. Otolaryngology--head and neck surgery : official journal of American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. 2021 Jan;164(1):104-109

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    PMID: 32633618

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