The purpose of this article is to review and integrate the available literature in different fields to gain a better understanding of the basic physiology and optimize vascular delay as a reconstructive surgery technique.Methods
A broad search of the literature was performed using the Medline database. Two queries were performed using “vascular delay,” a search expected to yield perspectives from the field of plastic and reconstructive surgery, and “ischemic preconditioning,” (IPC) which was expected to yield research on the same topic in other fields.Results
The combined searches yielded a total of 1824 abstracts. The “vascular delay” query yielded 76 articles from 1984 to 2011. The “ischemic preconditioning” query yielded 6534 articles, ranging from 1980 to 2012. The abstracts were screened for those from other specialties in addition to reconstructive surgery, analyzed potential or current uses of vascular delay in practice, or provided developments in understanding the pathophysiology of vascular delay. 70 articles were identified that met inclusion criteria and were applicable to vascular delay or ischemic preconditioning.Conclusion
An understanding of IPC's implementation and mechanisms in other fields has beneficial implications for the field of reconstructive surgery in the context of the delay phenomenon. Despite an incomplete model of IPC's pathways, the anti-oxidative, anti-apoptotic and anti-inflammatory benefits of IPC are well recognized. The activation of angiogenic genes through IPC could allow for complex flap design, even in poorly vascularized regions. IPC's promotion of angiogenesis and reduction of endothelial dysfunction remain most applicable to reconstructive surgery in reducing graft-related complications and flap failure.