In electrically stimulated (dynamic) graciloplasty for urinary incontinence, the gracilis muscle is transposed into the pelvis, and the distal part is used to reconstruct a neosphincter. Clinical outcomes using this technique have been disappointing due to stricture of the urethra caused by ischemia in the distal part of the gracilis and limited gracilis length available for neosphincter construction. Furthermore, the urethra is twisted by the contracting gracilis, rather than circumferentially squeezed. The purpose of the present study was to test the anatomical and functional feasibility of a new surgical approach to reconstruct a urinary sphincter, using the gracilis muscle as a free flap. In 12 human cadavers, the anatomical feasibility for creating a neosphincter by using the gracilis free flap was determined. In all cases, transfer of the gracilis muscle into the pelvis as a free flap (with the nerve intact) was feasible, and ample muscle was available to construct a neosphincter around the bladder neck. Gracilis neosphincter function was studied in seven dogs. The left gracilis muscle was subjected to transfer into the pelvis as an innervated free flap to create a neosphincter around the urethra. The right (control) gracilis muscle was lifted as a single pedicle flap, remained in situ, and was wrapped around a stent to mimic the urethra. Function (expressed as peak pressure generation and fatigue rate) and surface perfusion were determined for all gracilis muscles. In each dog, both sides were compared using the paired Student's t test for statistical analysis, and no significant difference was measured for the two groups. In conclusion, an innervated gracilis free flap can be used to create a neosphincter around the bladder neck. In an acute study in dogs, function and perfusion of the innervated gracilis free flap are not compromised.
Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery 08/1998; 102(1):84-91. DOI:10.1097/00006534-199807000-00013 · 3.33 Impact Factor