Research Article| Volume 60, ISSUE 5, P556-562, May 2007

A reverse-flow composite flap in the rat


      Reverse-flow flaps are currently particularly used for the reconstruction of defects of the distal part of the extremities. Despite their common usage there have been many reports of postoperative complications, especially resulting in partial or total flap necrosis. There is insufficient knowledge of flap haemodynamics, physiology and wound healing properties in reverse-flow flaps. Development of the proper experimental models is needed to investigate these issues. The purpose of this study was to describe a new reverse-flow flap model in the rat. A total of 20 adult Wistar rats weighing 200–250 g were used in this experiment. In five rats, the vascular anatomy of the auricle of the rat was determined by anatomic dissection and microangiography. In the experimental group (N=5), 1×1 cm reverse-flow composite flaps were harvested as a semi-island shape, based on the distal course of the medial branch of the anterior auricular artery. In the control group, consisting of five rats, the flap was designed and raised based on the proximal course of the medial auricular artery, again in a semi-island shape. In the remaining five animals, a square-shaped composite tissue of the whole layer of the auricle, 1×1 cm in size, was harvested dividing all the bases circumferentially. The composite tissue was replaced in situ. While the former was considered a conventional antegrade-flow flap subgroup, the latter was designated as a graft subgroup. All flaps were replaced in situ. The survival of the flap was evaluated on postoperative day 7 by direct observation and microangiography. The skin island of all the reverse-flow flaps and conventional antegrade-flow flaps survived completely giving a success rate of 100%, whereas all grafts in the control group underwent complete necrosis. Microangiographic studies revealed the vascularity of the reverse-flow and antegrade-flow flaps, identifying the course of the auricular arteries. In conclusion, with its evident advantages of easy to design and harvesting, reliable survival pattern and consistent vascular structure, our new flap model will provide a means for future studies on flap haemodynamics, physiology in reverse-flow flaps.


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