Home HBBRS Expert team Bernard T. Lee

Bernard T. Lee

NAME Bernard T. Lee

PROFESSIONAL TITLE Professor of Surgery and Chief, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery


DESCRIBE Over the last several years, my basic science research has focused on near infrared imaging (NIR) technologies to identify perfusion characteristics of flaps in reconstructive surgery. In collaboration with John V. Frangioni, MD, PhD, we are using two imaging modalities: Fluorescence-Assisted Resection and Exploration (FLARE) system and Spatial Frequency Domain Imaging (SFDI). We have successfully translated this technology from large animal models to first-in-human clinical trials.

ARE system to examine thrombosis in microsurgery. Using a fluorophore such as indocyanine  green, we can identify areas of occlusion and clotting within the vasculature. This enables us to resect and repair vessels and identify reestablished perfusion with the FLARE system. This allows assessment of real-time perfusion characteristics and image guidance during surgery.

In a separate face transplantation model, we are using SFDI to identify perfusion characteristics by targeting tissue constituents (such as hemoglobin). Through the use of this imaging system, we can examine oxygenation of our face transplantation models over a large field of view. In conjunction with surface profilometry, we can provide gradient maps of three-dimensionally complex reconstructive flaps with a single capture snapshot for guidance in the operating room and during surgery. We have successfully translated this technology for use in a clinical trial in patients undergoing microsurgical breast reconstruction.

Patient access and health literacy in plastic and reconstructive surgery

Our clinical outcomes research team has recently begun to examine the area of health literacy and patient access. The AMA and NIH guidelines are for patient-directed health literature to be written at a 6th grade level. Unfortunately, most patient resources are well above this level. Our group has examined online patient resources and their readability for patients. In addition, we have surveyed plastic surgeons to determine how they assess patient literacy and what methods are used to communicate health information. Finally, our group is also designing new patient materials at appropriate reading levels to evaluate their use in patient education.


Real-time flap viability monitoring during facial transplantation using SFDI; NIH, 2013-2018; PIs: John V. Frangioni, MD, PhD, and Bernard T. Lee, MD, MBA

Intraoperative near-infrared fluorescence imaging; NIH, 2010-2015; Co-Investigator: Bernard T. Lee, MD, MBA (PI: John V. Frangioni, MD, PhD)


Vargas CR, Koolen PGL, Chuang DJ, Ganor O, Lee BT. Online patient resources for breast reconstruction: An analysis of readability. Plast Reconstr Surg 2014;134(3):406-13.

Vargas CR, Chuang DJ, Ganor O, Lee BT. Readability of online patient resources for the operative treatment of breast cancer. Surgery 2014;156(2):311-8.

Koolen PGL, Nguyen JT, Ibrahim AMS, Ganor O, Chuang DJ, Lin SJ, Lee BT. Effects of statins on ischemia/reperfusion complications in free flaps. J Surg Res 2014;156(2):311-8.

de Blacam C, Colakoglu S, Ogunleye AA, Nguyen JT, Ibrahim AMS, Lin SJ, Kim PS, Lee BT. Risk factors associated with complications in lower extremity reconstruction with the distally-based sural flap: A systematic review and pooled analysis. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg 2014;67(5):607-16.

Ashraf AA, Colakoglu S, Nguyen JT, Anastasopulos AJ, Ibrahim AMS, Yueh JH, Lin SJ, Tobias AM, Lee BT. Patient involvement in the decision making process improves satisfaction and quality of life in postmastectomy breast reconstruction. J Surg Res 2013;184(1):665-70.

Nguyen JT, Ashitate Y, Venugopal V, Neacsu F, Kettenring F, Frangioni JV, Gioux S, Lee BT. Near-infrared imaging of face transplants: Are both pedicles necessary? J Surg Res 2013;184(1):714-21.