The effect of delay procedures on the survival of large arterialized venous flaps was studied in a rabbit ear model. Both ears of 25 New Zealand White rabbits (w = 50) were randomized into three operative groups receiving (1) no delay, (2) limited delay, or (3) extensive delay. Two weeks later the ear flap was completely divided, and arterialization of the flap venous tree was achieved by anastomosing the central artery of the ear to the anterior branch of the flap central vein. Survival area of 10 flaps in each group was assessed at 14 days. Flap vasculature was assessed in 10 additional ears in the nondelayed and extensively delayed groups by standardized vascular injections with radiopaque silicon rubber immediately, 6 hours, 24 hours, and 2 weeks after arterialization. Delay procedures significantly increased (p — 0.001, unpaired two-tailed Student’s t test) survival of arterialized venous flaps in this model. Whereas all flaps in the nondelayed group underwent total necrosis, the mean viable surface area of the flaps was 67.9 percent in the limited delay group and 94.0 percent in the extensively delayed group. Lastly, angiographic studies suggest that delay procedures prior to arterialization of the venous tree enhance perfusion of the arterial tree by increasing venoarterial communications.
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