A novel small-animal model of irradiated, implant-based breast reconstruction

Kasandra R. Dassoulas, Jessica S. Wang, Madeline M. Stovall, Serena S. Lei, Jenna M. Thuman, Lisa S. Salopek, Patrick S. Cottler, Angela Pineros-Fernandez, Taeho Kim, Cheuk Kai B. Hui, Anthony Archual, Kant Y. Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: There is currently a need for a clinically relevant small-animal model for irradiated, implant-based breast reconstruction. Present models are inadequate in terms of suboptimal location of expander placement and mode of radiation delivery, correlating poorly with the human clinical scenario. The authors hypothesized that by delivering fractionated radiation and placing an expander under the scalp of the animal, they would achieve soft-tissue changes histologically analogous to those seen in human irradiated, implant-based breast reconstruction. Methods: This study consisted of 11 immunocompetent, hairless rats divided into three groups as follows: untreated control (n = 3), tissue-expanded scalps (n = 4), and fractionated irradiation plus tissue expansion of the scalp (n = 4). At the completion of the experiment for each group, skin tissue samples were analyzed histologically for vascularity, epidermal and dermal thickness, and collagen fiber alignment or scar formation. Results: Expanded rat epidermis was significantly thicker and dermis was more vascular than nonexpanded skin. The authors observed a greater degree of collagen fiber alignment in the expanded group compared with nonexpanded skin. The combination of irradiation and expansion resulted in significant dermal thinning, vascular depletion, and increased scar formation compared with expanded skin alone. Conclusions: The authors describe a novel small-animal model for irradiated, implant-based breast reconstruction where histologic analysis shows structural changes in the skin consistent with known effects of radiation therapy and expansion in human skin. This model represents a significant improvement from previous ones and, as such, holds the potential to be used to test new therapeutic agents to improve clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1416-1425
Number of pages10
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'A novel small-animal model of irradiated, implant-based breast reconstruction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this