Unconventional Perfusion Flaps in the Experimental Setting: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Diogo Casal, David Tanganho, Teresa Cunha, Eduarda Mota-Silva, Inês Iria, Diogo Pais, Paula Videira, José Videira-Castro, João Goyri-O'Neill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Unconventional perfusion flaps offer multiple potential advantages compared with traditional flaps. Although there are numerous experimental articles on unconventional perfusion flaps, the multiple animal species involved, the myriad vascular constructions used, and the frequently conflicting data reported make synthesis of this information challenging. The main aim of this study was to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature on the experimental use of unconventional perfusion flaps, to identify the best experimental models proposed and to estimate their global survival rate. Methods: The authors performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of all articles written in English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese on the experimental use of unconventional perfusion flaps and indexed to PubMed from 1981 until February 1, 2017. Results: A total of 68 studies were found, corresponding to 86 optimized experimental models and 1073 unconventional perfusion flaps. The overall unconventional perfusion flap survival rate was 90.8 percent (95 percent CI, 86.9 to 93.6 percent; p < 0.001). The estimated proportion of experimental unconventional perfusion flaps presenting complete survival or nearly complete survival was 74.4 percent (95 percent CI, 62.1 to 83.7 percent; p < 0.001). The most commonly reported animal species in the literature were the rabbit (57.1 percent), the rat (26.4 percent), and the dog (14.3 percent). No significant differences were found in survival rates among these species, or among the diverse vascular patterns used. Conclusion: These data do not differ significantly from those reported regarding the use of unconventional perfusion flaps in human medicine, suggesting that rabbit, rat, and canine experimental unconventional perfusion flap models may adequately mimic the clinical application of unconventional perfusion flaps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1003e-1016e
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


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