Effect of low-frequency transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) on the viability of ischemic skin flaps in the rat: An amplitude study

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of low-frequency (2 Hz) transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) on the viability of ischemic skin flaps in the rat. Seventy-five EPM1-Wistar rats were used. The random skin flap measuring 10 × 4 cm was raised and a plastic barrier was placed between the flap and its bed. After the surgical procedure, animals in all groups were kept anesthetized for 1 hour, with electrodes placed at the base of the flap, and received the assigned treatment. The animals were randomized into five groups (G1–G5) and each group was subjected to the following procedures, which were repeated on the 2 subsequent days: G1—sham stimulation (control); G2—transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, TENS (f=2 Hz, I=5 mA), G3—TENS (f=2 Hz, I=10 mA), G4—TENS (f=2 Hz, I=15 mA), G5—TENS (f=2 Hz, I=20 mA). Seven days after treatment, the percentage of flap necrosis was determined. For each group, the mean±SEM percentage of flap necrosis was as follows: G1 group (control), 43.88±2.02%; G2 group, 39.20±3.17%; G3 group, 38.57±4.08%; G4 group, 32.14±2.89%; and G5 group, 44.13±2.98%. The G4 group had the smallest necrotic area compared with the control group. The low-frequency TENS treatment was effective in improving the viability of ischemic skin flap.

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