The Delay Phenomenon: Is One Surgical Delay Technique Superior?

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Surgical delay remains a common method for improving flap survival. However, the optimal surgical technique has not been determined. In this article, we compare flap perfusion, viable surface area, and flap contraction of 2 surgical delay techniques.


Male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into 3 groups. In the incisional surgical delay group (n = 9), a 9 × 3 cm dorsal flap was incised on 3 sides without undermining, leaving a cranial pedicle. In the bipedicle surgical delay group (BSD, n = 9), a 9 × 3 cm dorsal flap was incised laterally and undermined, leaving cranial and caudal pedicles. Control group (n = 16) animals did not undergo a delay procedure. Ten days following surgical delay, all flaps for all groups were raised, leaving a cranial pedicle. A silicone sheet separated the flap and the wound bed. On postoperative day (POD) 7, viable surface area was determined clinically. Contraction compared to POD 0 was measured with ImageJ software. Perfusion was measured with Laser Doppler Imaging. The Kruskal-Wallis with Dunn’s multiple comparisons test was performed for group comparisons.


BSD preserved significantly more viable surface area on POD 7 (13.7 ± 4.5 cm2) than Control (8.7 ± 1.8 cm2; P = 0.01). BSD also showed significantly less contraction (21.0% ± 13.5%) than Control (45.9% ± 19.7%; P = 0.0045). BSD and incisional surgical delay showed significantly increased perfusion compared with Control on POD 0 (P = 0.02 and 0.049, respectively), which persisted on POD 3. This trend resolved by POD 7.


BSD showed improved early perfusion, increased viable surface area, and reduced contraction compared to control, suggesting that BSD is the superior flap design for preclinical modeling.

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