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Microsurgery. 2005;25(7):524-31.

Ischemic preconditioning of free muscle flaps: an experimental study.

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Center for Laparoscopic Surgery and Microsurgery Pius Brânzeu, University of Medicine and Pharmacy Victor Babes, Timisoara, Romania.


The aim of this study was to apply the hypothesis of ischemic preconditioning (IP) on free skeletal muscle (rat thigh flap). Five groups of Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 6) were used. In group A (control group), standard free autologous flap transfers were performed. Flaps in groups B and C underwent 4 and 6 h, respectively, of ischemia before transfer. In groups D and E, muscle flaps were preconditioned (3 x 10 min ischemia interrupted by 10 min of reperfusion, clip applied on the dissected artery of the flap) and subjected to 4 and 6 h, respectively, of ischemia before transfer. After 48 h of reperfusion, the muscle flaps were evaluated macroscopically as well as by histological and immunohystochemical staining. In group A, the viability was 100%, whereas in groups D and E the viability was 83.3% and 100%, respectively. Groups B and C had undergone macroscopically parceled to total necrosis, further confirmed by histological findings (fragmentation and disappearance of muscle striations, combined with tissue necrosis and intravascular thrombosis). The beneficial effect of IP demonstrated in the heart, liver, and small bowel extends to skeletal muscle, which can be used in free-flap transfers, if the transfer includes a long period of predictable ischemia.

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