Described by Strauch and Murray in 1967, the rodent epigastric free flap remains a versatile tool for microsurgery research and training. We report herein three sequential phases of our quest to improve efficiency and effectiveness of the original technique, making it more accessible to more microsurgeons. Ninety-six allotransplants were performed. Surgical technique, complication rates, clinical findings, and histopathologic correlation of each phase are reported. In phase I, two experienced microsurgeons employed the original technique and succeeded in 77% of the procedures. In phase II, two junior microsurgeons achieved a patency rate of 16.6% using the same technique, as opposed to 100% in phase III, utilizing the not-yet-described simplified flow-thru technique. Although patency rate using the original method varies from 9 to 78% (according to other reports), this technical modification can increase even the less experienced microsurgeons' success rates, perpetuating the use of Strauch's epigastric flap in experimental microsurgery.
- Epigastric flap
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