Acute Ischemic Preconditioning of Skeletal Muscle Prior to Flap Elevation Augments Muscle-Flap Survival

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Abstract

Ischemic preconditioning of the myocardium with repeated brief periods of ischemia and reperfusion prior to prolonged ischemia significantly reduces subsequent myocardial infarction. Following ischemic preconditioning, two “windows of opportunity” (early and late) exist, during which time prolonged ischemia can occur with reduced infarction size. The early window occurs at approximately 4 hours and the late window at 24 hours following ischemic preconditioning of the myocardium. We investigated if ischemic preconditioning of skeletal muscle prior to flap creation improved subsequent flap survival and perfusion immediately or 24 hours following ischemic preconditioning. Currently, no data exist on the utilization of ischemic preconditioning in this fashion. The animal model used was the latissimus dorsi muscle of adult male Sprague-Dawley rats. Animals were assigned to three groups, and the right or left latissimus dorsi muscle was chosen randomly in each animal. Group 1 (n = 12) was the control group, in which the entire latissimus dorsi muscle was elevated acutely without ischemic preconditioning. Group 2 (n = 8) investigated the effects of ischemic preconditioning in the early window. In this group, the latissimus dorsi muscle was elevated immediately following preconditioning. Group 3 (n = 8) investigated the effects of ischemic preconditioning in the late window, with elevation of the latissimus dorsi muscle 24 hours following ischemic preconditioning.

The preconditioning regimen used in groups 2 and 3 was two 30-minute episodes of normothermic global ischemia with intervening 10-minute episodes of reperfusion. Latissimus dorsi muscle ischemia was created by occlusion of the thoracodorsal artery and vein and the intercostal perforators, after isolation of the muscle on these vessels. Muscle perfusion was assessed by a laser-Doppler perfusion imager. One week after flap elevation, muscle necrosis was quantified in all groups by means of computer-assisted digital planimetry.

Our results show that ischemic preconditioning resulted in a significant reduction (p < 0.05) in muscle-flap necrosis immediately and 24 hours following ischemic preconditioning. Perfusion changes after flap elevation were similar among the three groups.

Ischemic preconditioning of skeletal muscle prior to flap creation significantly reduces subsequent muscle-flap necrosis caused by the ischemia of flap creation immediately and 24 hours following ischemic preconditioning. Further elaboration of the mechanisms of ischemic preconditioning may allow pharmacologic preconditioning to be used in the augmentation of skeletal muscle-flap survival in the clinical setting. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 100: 58, 1997.)

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