Vascular supercharge and flap prefabrication are two surgical maneuvers to improve flap blood supply. Although these techniques have been studied intensively, few studies have focused on the differences between supercharge and prefabricated flaps regarding their flap survival areas, vasculatures, and hemodynamics.
In this study, 21 male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into three groups as follows: group A, single perforator flap; group B, supercharge flap; and group C, prefabricated flap. Flap survival was measured 1 week after flap elevation. Indocyanine green angiography was applied to visualize flap vascularity and to analyze flap hemodynamics. Von Willebrand factor immunohistochemical staining was applied to assess the number of microvessels in the choke zone of the abdominal wall.
The flap survival areas were expanded significantly in the arteriovenous supercharge group and the vascular bundle prefabricated group compared with that in the single-perforator group (81.34 ± 8.12 percent and 75.51 ± 8.08 percent versus 46.27 ± 10.01 percent, respectively; p < 0.05). Hemodynamic analysis suggested that although a significant increase in arterial infusion could be achieved with flap prefabrication, the venous effusion of the prefabricated flap was the worst among the three groups, indicating greater susceptibility to compromised venous return. Active neovascularization was confirmed by an increased number of microvessels in group C. Specifically, the dilatation of choke vessels and the newly formed vessels of the prefabricated pedicle could be appreciated by indocyanine green angiographic mapping.
Both vascular supercharge and flap prefabrication can augment the blood supply of the perforator flap but by means of different mechanisms. Because a supercharge flap is less susceptible to venous compromise, it is suggested to first consider the use of vascular supercharging when feasible.