Educational Objective: At the conclusion of this presentation, the participant should be able to design and execute a learning model for microvascular training using the chicken thigh, and compare the vessel caliber of this model to flaps most often used in head and neck microvascular reconstruction. Objectives: To describe the relevant vascular anatomy of the chicken thigh, evaluate the anatomical variants of the ischiatic artery and femoral vein, and highlight the utility of this model in training head and neck microvascular surgeons. Study Design: Chicken thighs from a local grocer were dissected using loupe magnification. Vessel characteristics including diameter and anatomical variants were assessed. Results were compared with reported sizes of the vessels in the common free flaps used in head and neck reconstruction: the radial forearm, the fibula, and the anterolateral thigh free flap. Results: The anatomy of the chicken ischiatic artery and femoral vein was easily dissectible and constant among specimens. Chicken thigh vessel caliber was comparable to those reported for the radial forearm, the fibula, and the anterolateral thigh free flaps. Conclusions: The chicken thigh model is an innovative model for microvascular surgical training, with vascular anatomy comparable to vessels in commonly used flaps for head and neck reconstruction. We offer this technique as a complimentary model (to the standard rat femoral vessel model) with the specific advantages of: ready accessibility, low cost, vivisection avoidance and a vascular pedicle highly similar to the common free flaps in head and neck reconstruction.
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