Total Face, Eyelids, Ears, Scalp, and Skeletal Subunit Transplant Cadaver Simulation: The Culmination of Aesthetic, Craniofacial, and Microsurgery Principles

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Abstract

Background:

The application of aesthetic, craniofacial, and microsurgical principles in the execution of face transplantation may improve outcomes. Optimal soft-tissue face transplantation can be achieved by incorporating subunit facial skeletal replacement and subsequent tissue resuspension. The purpose of this study was to establish a reconstructive solution for a full face and scalp burn and to evaluate outcome precision and consistency.

Methods:

Seven mock face transplants (14 cadavers) were completed in the span of 1 year. Components of the vascularized composite allograft included the eyelids, nose, lips, facial muscles, oral mucosa, total scalp, and ears; and skeletal subunits of the zygoma, nasal bone, and genial segment. Virtual surgical planning was used for osteotomy selection, and to evaluate postoperative precision of hard- and soft-tissue elements.

Results:

Each transplant experience decreased each subsequent transplant surgical time. Prefabricated cutting guides facilitated a faster dissection of both donor and recipient tissue, requiring minimal alteration to the allograft for proper fixation of bony segments during inset. Regardless of donor-to-recipient size discrepancy, ample soft tissue was available to achieve tension-free allograft inset. Differences between virtual transplant simulation and posttransplant measurements were minimal or insignificant, supporting replicable and precise outcomes.

Conclusions:

This facial transplant model was designed to optimize reconstruction of extensive soft-tissue defects of the craniofacial region representative of electrical, thermal, and chemical burns, by incorporating skeletal subunits within the allograft. The implementation of aesthetic, craniofacial, and microsurgical principles and computer-assisted technology improves surgical precision, decreases operative time, and may optimize function.

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