Comparison of Two Different Delay Procedures in a Rat Skin Flap Model

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The overall objective of this study was to investigate how a strategic delay procedure could generate large flaps survival. On the basis of the vascular anatomy in 10 rats, a long three-territory skin flap spanning the length of the rat dorsum was designed. This flap was distally based on the deep circumflex iliac artery. The adjacent territories consisted of a large perforator of the posterior intercostal artery and the lateral thoracic artery in sequence. Two different vascular delay procedures were used and compared in nine animals. One dorsal midline incision was used to perform the two different delay procedures. The limited delay technique was performed by ligating a large cutaneous perforator of the posterior intercostal artery on one side of the rat. The extensive delay procedure was completed by ligating the cutaneous perforators of the posterior intercostal artery and the lateral thoracic artery on the other side of the rat. After a delay period of 10 days, the paired flaps were elevated, respectively, and sutured back in place. Seven days later, the area of viable skin flap was measured by the paper template technique. The animals were then killed, and the dorsal skin arteriograms were obtained by injecting a lead oxide mixture. Vascular changes of the paired flaps were assessed. In the extensive delay group, 100-percent survival was seen in four animals and distal partial necrosis was observed in five animals. The average survival area in the extensive delay group was 85.5 ± 14.2 percent (mean ± SD), whereas the flaps in limited delay group showed 100-percent survival in all animals (p < 0.05). In flaps that survived completely, the choke vessels among three vascular territories anastomosed throughout the flap. In the partially necrotic flaps, some choke and true anastomoses existed between the deep circumflex iliac and the posterior intercostal artery territories and the flap necrosis occurred in the third territory. This study suggests that the limited delay technique (ligation of one artery in the territory adjacent to the base of the flap) was the more effective delay procedure in the rat dorsal skin flap model. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 102: 1591, 1998.)

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