Pixel Grafting: An Evolution of Mincing for Transplantation of Full-Thickness Wounds

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2016 Jan;137(1):92e-99e. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000001871.


Background: Split-thickness skin grafting is the gold standard for treatment of major skin loss. This technique is limited by donor-site availability in large burn injuries. With micrografting, a technique where split-thickness skin graft is minced into 0.8 × 0.8-mm pieces, the authors have demonstrated an expansion ratio of 1:100 and healing comparable to that achieved with split-thickness skin grafting.

Methods: In this study, the authors explore the regenerative potential of a skin graft by cutting split-thickness skin grafts to pixel size (0.3 × 0.3 mm) grafts. Wound healing was studied in full-thickness wounds in a porcine model by creating an incubator-like microenvironment using polyurethane wound chambers. Multiple wound healing parameters were used to study the outcome of pixel grafting and compare it to micrografting and nontransplanted wounds.

Results: The authors' results show that 0.3 × 0.3-mm pixel grafts remain viable and contribute to skin regeneration. The pixel graft-transplanted wounds demonstrated a faster reepithelialization rate, decreased wound contraction, and increased mechanical stability compared with nontransplanted wounds. The reepithelialization rates of the wounds were significantly increased with pixel grafting at day 6 after wounding compared with micrografting. Among the other wound healing parameters, there were no significant differences between wounds transplanted with pixel grafts and micrografts.

Conclusions: Pixel grafting technique would address the most commonly encountered limitations of the split-thickness skin graft with the possibility of an even larger expansion ratio than micrografting. This technique is simple and fast and can be conducted in the operating room or in the clinic.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Re-Epithelialization
  • Skin / injuries*
  • Skin / pathology
  • Skin Transplantation / methods*
  • Swine
  • Wound Healing / physiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / pathology
  • Wounds and Injuries / surgery*