A Mathematical Model For More Successful Tissue Transfers

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There are multiple plastic surgery procedures that rely on tissue transfer-some reconstructive, some purely cosmetic. There has always been a great deal of educated guessing involved in these procedures, but now surgeons are looking to a more reliable mathematical method in order to ensure that more tissue survives the transfer.

Ohio State University plastic surgeons recently published the first known mathematical guideline of tissue transfer, which uses differential equations to determine which areas of potentially harvested tissue, usually called a flap, will receive the oxygen and blood needed for survival once transferred.

“What we need is a more precise ability to determine what the necessary blood vessel size really is,” said professor Michael Miller. “I’m convinced that there is a relationship that’s probably very predictive between the diameter and blood flow in the vessel and the ability of the piece of the tissue we’re transferring to survive based on that.”

The researchers are hoping that following this mathematical model will lead to better-sustained oxygen flow and, thus, fewer transfer failures, which often leads to re-operating.

“This is still just a concept,” professor Avner Friedman explains. “But this initial system of five differential equations gives us a range between the flap size and the required diameter of the supporting artery that would ensure survival.”

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