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Precise and Rapid Costal Cartilage Graft Sectioning Using a Novel Device


IMPORTANCE The use of costal cartilage as a graft in facial reconstructive surgery requires sectioning the cartilage into a suitable shape. OBJECTIVE To evaluate the accuracy of a novel mechanical device for producing uniform slices of costal cartilage and to illustrate the use of the device during nasal surgery. DESIGN Basic and clinical study using 100 porcine ex vivo costal cartilage slices and 9 operative cases. METHODS This instrument departs from antecedent devices in that it uses compression to secure and stabilize the specimen during sectioning. A total of 75 porcine costal cartilage ribs were clamped with minimal compression just sufficient to secure and stabilize the specimen while cutting. Slices having a length of 4 cm and width of 1 cm were obtained using the cartilage cutter at 3 thicknesses: 1 mm (n = 25), 2 mm (n = 25), and 3 mm (n = 25). The procedure was repeated for the 2-mm thick samples; however, the ribs in this group (n = 25) were clamped using the maximum amount of compression attainable by the device. Thickness was measured using a digital micrometer. Case presentations illustrate the use of the device in secondary and reconstructive rhinoplasty surgery. RESULTS All specimens were highly uniform in thickness on visual inspection and appeared to be adequate for clinical application. Sectioning was completed in several seconds without complication. In the porcine specimens sectioned using minimal compression, the percentage difference in thickness for each individual sample averaged 18%, 10%, and 11% for the 1-mm-, 2-mm-, and 3-mm-thick slices, respectively. Within the specimens sectioned using maximum compression, the percentage difference in thickness for each individual sample averaged 35% for the 2-mm-thick slices. In the setting of nasal reconstructive surgery, slices having a thickness from 1 to 2 mm were found to be well suited for all necessary graft types. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE The simple mechanical device described produces costal cartilage graft slices with highly uniform thickness. Securing the rib by clamping during cutting reduces uniformity of the slices; however, the imperfections are minimal, and all sectioned grafts are adequate for clinical application. The device can be adjusted to produce slices of appropriate thickness for all nasal cartilage grafts. This device is valuable for reconstructive procedures owing to its ease of use, rapid operation, and reproducible results.

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