Background: Soft-tissue deficiencies pose a challenge in a variety of disease processes when the end result is exposure of underlying tissue. Although multiple surgical techniques exist, the transposition of tissue from one location to another can cause donorsite morbidity, long incisions prone to dehiscence, and poor patient outcomes as a result. Use of tissue expansion prior to grafting procedures has been shown to have success in increasing available soft tissue to aid in repairing wounds. However, the current tissue expanders have biomechanical limits to the extent and rate of expansion that usually exceeds the tissue capacity, leading to incisional dehiscence or expander extrusion. Understanding the baseline biomechanical properties of the tissue to be expanded would provide useful information regarding surgical protocol employed for a given anatomical location. Therefore, the aim of this study was to test and compare the baseline (preexpansion) biomechanical properties of different common expansion sites in dogs. Methods: Four samples measuring approximately 20 × 15 × 1 mm were harvested from 8 dogs. The samples were collected from the hard palate, alveolar mucosa, scalp, and chest of the animal and analyzed for stress, strain, maximum tangential stiffness, maximum tangential modulus, and tensile strength using a Texture Technologies TA.XT texture analyzer with corresponding biomechanical measurement software. Samples were compared as to their baseline biomechanical properties prior to any soft-tissue expansion. Histological sections of the samples were analyzed using hematoxylin eosin in an attempt to correlate the histological description to the biomechanical properties seen during testing. Summary statistics (mean, standard deviation, standard error, range) are reported for stress, strain, maximum tangential stiffness, maximum tangential modulus, and tensile strength and for the histological parameters by intraoral site. Analysis of variance was used to compare the biomechanical and histological parameters among the 4 locations while accounting for multiple measurements from each dog. Results: The scalp had significantly higher maximum stress (ωmax) than chest, mucosa, and palate (P < 0.0001), with no differences among the other 3 locations (P > 0.63). Scalp site also had significantly higher maximum tangential modulus (ϵ) than chest, mucosa, and palate (P < 0.006), with no differences among the other 3 locations (P > 0.17). The locations did not have significantly different maximum tangential stiffness (k; P = 0.72). Histologically, 2 separate patterns of collagen disruption were evident. Conclusion: Although different results were obtained than theorized, this study showed that the scalp had the greatest resiliency to expand prior to tearing, and the highest tangential modulus, with all sites having statistically similar modulus of elasticity. Based on this study, the scalp could be expanded more aggressively compared with the other sites.
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