Early and Late Effects of Ischemic Preconditioning on Microcirculation of Skeletal Muscle Flaps

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The present study was designed to investigate the early and late effects of ischemic preconditioning on muscle flap perfusion and reperfusion-induced skeletal muscle damage. Thirty-six Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into six experimental groups of six animals each. The cremaster muscle flap model and the intravital microscopy system were used to observe microcirculatory changes associated with ischemia-reperfusion injury and ischemic preconditioning. In groups 1, 2, and 3, microcirculatory measurements were taken on the same day; however, in groups 4, 5, and 6, measurements were taken a day after surgery. Group 1 served as a control. The cremaster muscle was prepared as a tube flap, subjected to an hour of perfusion without ischemia. In group 2 (ischemic preconditioning + ischemia group), the cremaster muscle tube flap was subjected to 30 minutes of ischemia and 30 minutes of reperfusion, followed by 4 hours of total ischemia. In group 3 (ischemia alone), the flap was submitted to 4 hours of ischemia alone. In group 4 (control), the cremaster muscle flaps were dissected out, preserved in the subcutaneous tunnel, and submitted to 24 hours of perfusion only. In group 5 (ischemic preconditioning + 24 hours of perfusion + 4 hours of ischemia), the ischemic preconditioning protocol was followed by 24 hours of perfusion and 4 hours of ischemia. In group 6 (24 hours of perfusion + ischemia), the same protocol was used as in group 5 without ischemic preconditioning. Functional capillary perfusion, and the diameters of the arterioles of the first, second, and third order were significantly increased in the ischemic preconditioning group during the early period, but not after 24 hours of perfusion. No differences in the red blood cell velocities of arterioles of the first, second, or third order were found in either the early-effect or late-effect groups. The numbers of rolling, adhering, and transmigrating leukocytes, however, were significantly lower in the ischemic preconditioning group at both early and late follow-up. Ischemic preconditioning of the skeletal muscle flap has both an early and a late protective effect against reperfusion injury. Ischemic preconditioning at the early interval significantly improves muscle flow hemodynamics of the flap and attenuates leukocyte-mediated reperfusion injury. After 24 hours of reperfusion, however, ischemic preconditioning failed to improve the flow hemodynamics of the flap, yet it still protected the skeletal muscle flap from leukocyte-mediated reperfusion injury. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 109: 1344, 2002.)

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