Objective: To evaluate the ability of porcine small intestine submucosa (SIS) to 1) maintain airway patency, 2) integrate, 3) prevent granulation tissue formation, and 4) permit mucosalization when used for tracheal reconstruction. Further studies were performed to evaluate the ability of SIS to support neochondrogenesis and investigate the impact of neochondrogenesis on airway patency. Study design: Prospective, controlled animal trial with SIS used with and without a perichondrial flap to reconstruct a tracheal defect in a rabbit model. Functional, histologic and endoscopic analyses were performed. Results: All animals except 1 control animal were without stridor. The SIS graft supported neochondrogenesis, was completely mucosalized and was well integrated into the neotrachea. There was minimal granulation tissue formation. Endoscopic analyses did not reveal a consistent, significant difference in airway patency when SIS, with or without a perichondrial flap, was used for reconstruction. Conclusion: SIS can be used to reconstruct a sublethal rabbit tracheal defect with no mortality and minimal morbidity.
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