Background: The technical success of facial composite tissue allotransplantation demands full understanding of superficial and deep perfusion for reliable microvascular transfer. Candidates with composite midface defects require an appreciation of the circulatory patterns to design a composite midface allotransplant.
Methods: External carotid vascular territories were evaluated in 10 cadavers to determine the reliability of facial soft-tissue flaps based on a single vascular pedicle. The right common carotid artery was injected with red latex and the left was injected with blue latex. Dual perfusion was confirmed by purple, following two-color mixing. Vascular pedicles included the superficial temporal, transverse facial, and facial arteries. In five additional cadavers, the midface segment was isolated by Le Fort III osteotomy after two-color latex injection with inclusion of the internal maxillary vascular pedicle. Cadavers were imaged with three-dimensional computed tomographic reconstructions following latex injection to confirm perfusion patterns.
Results: In soft-tissue facial flaps, unilateral carotid dominance was seen in the nasal dorsum and tip, confirming reliable supply by a single external carotid artery. In midface flaps, bilateral perfusion was seen in the maxilla. Ipsilateral perfusion was observed at the zygomaticomaxillary complex without any contralateral contribution.
Conclusions: Dual soft-tissue perfusion was confirmed in most specimens at the nasal, central face, and maxilla. The inclusion of the maxilla in the design of a facial composite allotransplant demands bilateral vascular pedicles based on the internal maxillary arteries. The authors highlight a procurement strategy for design of such flaps.