Document Type


Publication Date



This article is the author's final published version in Biological Procedures Online, Volume 26, Issue 1, 2024, Article number 2.

The published version is available at

Copyright © The Author(s) 2024


BACKGROUND: Some of the most complex surgical interventions to treat trauma and cancer include the use of locoregional pedicled and free autologous tissue transfer flaps. While the techniques used for these reconstructive surgery procedures have improved over time, flap complications and even failure remain a significant clinical challenge. Animal models are useful in studying the pathophysiology of ischemic flaps, but when repeatability is a primary focus of a study, conventional in-vivo designs, where one randomized subset of animals serves as a treatment group while a second subset serves as a control, are at a disadvantage instigated by greater subject-to-subject variability. Our goal was to provide a step-by-step methodological protocol for creating an alternative standardized, more economical, and transferable pre-clinical animal research model of excisional full-thickness wound healing following a simulated autologous tissue transfer which includes the primary ischemia, reperfusion, and secondary ischemia events with the latter mimicking flap salvage procedure.

RESULTS: Unlike in the most frequently used classical unilateral McFarlane's caudally based dorsal random pattern skin flap model, in the herein described bilateral epigastric fasciocutaneous advancement flap (BEFAF) model, one flap heals under normal and a contralateral flap-under perturbed conditions or both flaps heal under conditions that vary by one within-subjects factor. We discuss the advantages and limitations of the proposed experimental approach and, as a part of model validation, provide the examples of its use in laboratory rat (Rattus norvegicus) axial pattern flap healing studies.

CONCLUSIONS: This technically challenging but feasible reconstructive surgery model eliminates inter-subject variability, while concomitantly minimizing the number of animals needed to achieve adequate statistical power. BEFAFs may be used to investigate the spatiotemporal cellular and molecular responses to complex tissue injury, interventions simulating clinically relevant flap complications (e.g., vascular thrombosis) as well as prophylactic, therapeutic or surgical treatment (e.g., flap delay) strategies in the presence or absence of confounding risk factors (e.g., substance abuse, irradiation, diabetes) or favorable wound-healing promoting activities (e.g., exercise). Detailed visual instructions in BEFAF protocol may serve as an aid for teaching medical or academic researchers basic vascular microsurgery techniques that focus on precision, tremor management and magnification.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

PubMed ID






To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.