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Minerva Chirurgica 2002 August;57(4):537-42

language: Italian

Laboratory model of a microvascular free flap in the rat: the epigastric flap

Schonauer F., La Rusca I., Gonzales Y Reyero E., Romagnuolo M., Molea G.


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Background. Soft tissue defects are mostly managed surgically by free microvascular flaps. The progressive development of techniques and the availability and reliability of new different and free flaps encouraged this surgical approach. Thus, there is a constant need of free flap models to reproduce in laboratory. The experience with the use of the epigastric free flap in the rat as a laboratory model for microsurgical trainees is presented. In our microsurgical flap model the anastomoses were constantly performed on the femoral vessels.
Methods. The flap was used in 25 rats during the practical sessions of periodical experimental microsurgery courses. The main steps were: flap harvesting on the superficial epigastric vessels; flap anastomosis on the femoral vessels; pedicle section; microvascular anastomosis.
Results. The epigastric free flap showed to be an easy surgical model. The mean duration of the exercise was 2 hours and 11 minutes. These surgical times were considered acceptable to the requirement of a laboratory model.
Conclusions. The epigastric free flap in the rat is a reproducible experimental model which is still up to date in microsurgical training.

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