Using a canine model, we compared postoperative viability of saphenous venous flaps, cephalic venous flaps, and composite-tissue grafts without vascular connections. Of the saphenous flaps, 14 percent survived. Of the flaps based on the cephalic vein, 75 percent survived. Cephalic composite-tissue grafts were 13 percent successful. The presence of a more intricate venous plexus in a flap seems to increase its chances of success. Arterial injections of radioisotope-labeled microspheres were used to chart revascularization in cephalic flaps. These flaps demonstrated arterial blood flow by day 3, while the composite grafts showed no flow until day 7. Venous injections of microspheres distal to the flap were used to test vein-to-capillary blood flow. No significant entrapment of microspheres within the flaps occurred at any time, suggesting such flow to be inadequate.
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