Single-Artery Human Ear Graft Procurement: A Simplified Approach

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Abstract

Summary:

In the field of experimental facial vascularized composite tissue allotransplantation, a human auricular subunit model, pedicled on both superficial temporal and posterior auricular arteries, was described. Clinical cases of extensive auricular replantation, however, suggested that a single artery could perfuse the entire flap. In this study, variants of this single-pedicle approach have been studied, aiming to develop a more versatile replantation technique, in which the question of venous drainage has also been addressed. For arterial perfusion study, the authors harvested 11 auricular grafts, either on a single superficial temporal artery pedicle (n = 3) or a double superficial temporal and posterior auricular artery pedicle (n = 8). The authors then proceeded to selective barium injections, in the superficial temporal, posterior auricular, or both superficial temporal and posterior auricular arteries. Arteriograms were acquired with a micro–computed tomographic scan and analyzed on three-dimensionally reconstructed images. Venous drainage was investigated in eight hemifaces, carefully dissected after latex injection. Observations showed a homogenous perfusion of the whole auricle in all arterial graft variants. Venous drainage was highly variable, with either a dominant superficial temporal vein (37.5 percent), dominant posterior auricular vein (12.5 percent), or co-dominant trunks (50 percent). The authors demonstrated that auricular subunit vascularized composite tissue allotransplantation can be performed on a single artery, relying on the dynamic intraauricular anastomoses between superficial temporal artery and posterior auricular branches. Potentially, this vascular versatility is prone to simplify the subunit harvest and allows various strategies for pedicle selection. Venous drainage, however, remains inconstant and thus the major issue when considering auricular transplantation.

CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Therapeutic, V.

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