Superoxide radicals have been shown to play a role in the cellular injury of reperfused ischemic tissues. We examined the protective effect of superoxide dismutase (SOD), a superoxide radical scavenger, on the reperfusion injury of replanted vascularized bone grafts after 4-and 8-hour periods of ischemia in a rat model. Histologic, fluorochrome, and histomorphometric analyses showed no difference between 4-hour superoxide dismutase-treated and control grafts, with both groups appearing viable. Similar analyses of the 8-hour ischemic grafts revealed both a qualitative and statistically significant quantitative difference (p < 0.001) between the superoxide dismutase-treated and control grafts in parameters related to viability. Our results indicated that the administration of superoxide dismutase to free vascularized grafts by means of intraarterial perfusion after prolonged periods of warm ischemia significantly enhances the survival of these grafts.
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