Autologous cutaneous grafts for experimental reconstruction of facial cartilagineous defects: ideas and innovations
The aim of this paper is to report histological and biomechanical observations on autologous skin grafts that had been treated with a stabilized glutaraldehyde process in order to obtain elastic cartilage substitutes. Two parallel, para-midline full-thickness cutaneous rectangular grafts (1.5×3 cm) were harvested on the dorsum of 20 New Zealand rabbits. The 40 cutaneous grafts thus obtained were then immersed, for 30 min, into a solution of 25% glutaraldehyde, thoroughly rinsed with saline, and individually grafted subcutaneously at the level of the base of the homolateral ear. After 4 months, the grafts were harvested again in order to evaluate their histologic and tensiometric properties: The plasticity of the grafts resembled that of normal elastic cartilage (mean pliability=0.3335 N/cm), while, at the histological level, only little change was noted in any of the grafts. All the grafts were surrounded by a thick connective capsule. Apart from some areas of intercellular edema, there was no evidence of any cell infiltration or tissue growing into the grafts. The cell architecture appeared intact. In our experience, autologous skin grafts may be permanently fixed (and their complex architecture preserved) in order to obtain, in a rabbit model, stable cartilaginous bioprostheses.
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