The role of vascularized bone marrow in promoting composite allograft survival can be assessed by intrinsically chimeric flaps. In this study, we introduce a significant modification to a previously described rat model of combined superficial inferior epigastric artery (SIEA) myocutaneous/vascularized femur transplantation. We previously noted autocannibalization in orthotopic myocutaneous SIEA allotransplants, which complicated clinical and histologic evaluation of rejection. We therefore designed syngeneic experiments in eight Lewis (RTl 1) rat pairs to explore the feasibility of tunneling the SIEA component of chimeric SIEA myocutaneous/vascularized femur flaps to the recipient dorsum. Vascularized SIEA myocutaneous/femur transplants survived in their entirety to POD 63 study endpoint with patent anastomoses in seven of eight (87.5%) transplants as confirmed clinically, histologically, and via near-infrared fluorescent angiography. Tunneling of the SIEA component of SIEA myocutaneous/vascularized femur flaps to the recipient dorsum can be achieved with high success rate and acceptable operative times, and is a technically easy method to study the role of vascularized bone marrow in composite allografts. This modification facilitates SIEA component monitoring, removes it from constant contact with cage bedding, and places it in a location where autocannibalization is unlikely.
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