There are limited sources of autogenous tissue available for reconstruction of severe facial and scalp deformities caused by extensive tumor ablation, burns, or trauma. Allografts from cadaveric sources may serve as a reconstructive alternative. However, technical and immunological aspects of harvesting and transplanting face and scalp flaps limit the routine use of such procedures. For evaluation of the feasibility of composite-tissue reconstruction, an experimental model of composite face/scalp flap transplantation in rats was designed. Technical aspects of the model, survival rates, and the complications encountered during development of the model are presented. A total of 64 animals, in three experimental groups, were studied. In group I, the anatomical study group (n = 6), the anatomical features of the face and scalp region in rats were explored. Groups II and III were the transplantation groups. Isograft transplantations were performed between identical Lewis rats (RT11 to RT11), and allografts were transplanted, across major histocompatibility complex barriers, between Lewis-Brown Norway rats (RT1l/n) and Lewis rats (RT11). In group II (the control group, n = 8), transplantation of nonvascularized composite face/scalp isografts and allografts was performed. In group III (the transplantation group, n = 50), vascularized face/scalp isografts (n = 36) and allografts (n = 14) were transplanted. Complications included partial or total flap necrosis, death attributable to food aspiration, and poor general condition. To prevent acute and chronic allograft rejection, cyclosporine A (16 mg/kg per day) therapy was initiated 24 hours after transplantation; the dose was tapered to 2 mg/kg per day within 4 weeks and was maintained at that level thereafter. Long-term survival (>170 days) was achieved, without any signs of rejection, with low-dose (2 mg/kg per day) cyclosporine A therapy. This is the first report documenting successful composite face/scalp flap transplantation in the rat model.
From the Department of Plastic Surgery, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation.
Received for publication October 2, 2002;
revised December 9, 2002.
Maria Z. Siemionow, M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Plastic Surgery, A-60
The Cleveland Clinic Foundation
9500 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44195