Background: Devastating extremity injuries are prevalent but most often survivable on the modern battlefield. The complexity of these injuries requires advanced methods of reconstruction. This study is designed to validate the feasibility of gracilis myocutaneous flap transplantation via microvascular free tissue transfer in a porcine model. This model will facilitate study of autotransplant physiology as well as vascularized composite allotransplantation as an evolving method for reconstructing previously nonreconstructable injuries. Material and methods: A donor gracilis myocutaneous flap is procured from Yorkshire swine. The right external carotid artery and internal jugular vein are prepared as the recipient axis for microvascular anastomoses. Group 1 undergoes immediate microvascular anastomosis with resultant 1-h ischemic period. Group 2 undergoes delayed anastomosis with 3-h ischemic period. Markers of ischemia-reperfusion injury are evaluated after anastomosis and on postoperative days 1, 2, 7, and 14. Results: A novel porcine model for microvascular composite tissue transplantation is demonstrated. Ischemia period-dependent elevations in circulating biomarkers (lactate dehydrogenase [LDH], creatine kinase [CK], and aspartate transaminase [AST]) demonstrate the effects of prolonged ischemia. Both groups showed marked LDH elevation without significant statistical intergroup difference (P = 0.250). The difference in CK and AST levels at 24 h showed strong significance (P < 0.0001). Conclusions: A novel method of vascularized gracilis myocutaneous flap transplantation was validated in the Yorkshire swine. Assays for skeletal muscle tissue injury (LDH, CK, and AST) showed ischemia period-dependent response providing assessment of ischemia-reperfusion injury at the cellular level. Subsequent studies will evaluate agents that mitigate ischemia-reperfusion injury and transition these findings to potentiate vascularized composite allotransplantation.
- Composite tissue transplantation
- Gracilis flap
- Large animal model
- Microvascular techniques
- Reperfusion injury