Institute for Plastic Surgery 
Phone: 217-545-6314
Fax: 217-545-2588
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Plastic Surgery Research Overview

Joel Reichensperger
Researcher II
Carrie Harrison
Researcher IV

Lisa Cox
Researcher IV

The Institute for Plastic Surgery has approximately 2400 square feet of laboratory space in the 801 building of SIU School of Medicine. 

1200 square feet are dedicated to rodent microsurgery with 4 operating microsurgery microscopes (Leica Wild 650, Leica M295, Zeiss F125, and Leica Wild M680 equipped with a Sony PDW-10MD video camera with one 31 inch monitor and one 46 inch monitor).

800 square feet of lab space are dedicated to molecular biology and other bench assays.   Equipment includes a Biorad C1000 Thermocycler, Fisher Scientific Isotemp hybridization oven, and Baker Sterile Gard BCL2 cell culture hood.

The remaining 382 square feet are dedicated to tissue engineering and cell culture.  Equipment includes a BSLII biosafety hood, four CO2 controlled Forma Series II incubators, an Olympus CK40 inverted light microscope and an Olympus IX 51 inverted fluorescent microscope with Infinity Lite camera attachment.

The Core facility at SIU has a Becton-Dickinson FACSAria II high-speed cell sorter, ABI 1 Step Plus Real Time PCR machines, Bioluminescence Imager, Leica LSCM confocal microscope, fluorescent microscopes, Faxitron X-ray machine, Syngene G:Box iChemi XT chemiluminescence imaging system, Hitachi S-3000 scanning electron microscope, and Hitachi H-7000 transmission electron microscope.

Present Research (Laboratory)

The research efforts of all three laboratories are directed by one of the plastic surgery faculty and managed by a PhD Research Associate Professor. Along with three master-level research assistants, the physicians, residents and fellows conduct on-going projects designed to deliver better clinical treatment and outcomes for our patients. Past and current research projects listed below. The research area of interest are focused on but not limited to a variety of diverse interests in plastic surgery.

Clinical research is also an important aspect of investigation at SIU.

Tissue Engineering

Complex reconstruction from cancer ablation, truama or congenital defects offers a daunting challenge to many plastic surgeons. The reconstruction requires harvesting tissue from a distant site. This can often result in significant donor site compromise. Tissue engineering offers a means of minimizing donor site defects.

Tissue engineering is the process of regenerating or replacing damaged tissues or organs with biological substitutes. The procedure uses the body's own cells or a construct as the building blocks for creating replacement organs that will one day virtually eliminate the idea of organ shortages and organ rejection.

A tissue engineered ear - the cultured cartilage cells have been molded into the shape of an ear.

Transported vessels have been incorporated into the new ear through a process called vascular prefabrication. Cartilage pieces are removed from a rat's ear and cultured in the lab giving a sheet of cartilage cells. Simultaneously, a product is made in the abdomian wall. A silicone block, in the shape of an ear, is placed in this pocket. A large local blood vessel is then moved onto the silicone block and the wounds are closed. After two weeks, a contoured, ear-shaped capsule has formed around the silicone mold. The silicone is removed and the cultured cartilage is placed inside the capsular mold. The cartilage continues to replicate, creating a rigid construct in the shape of an ear. Microciculatory Studies of Ischemia/Reperfusion Injury to Skeletal Muscle Ischemia followed by reperfusion leads to severe organ injury and dysfunction. Inflammation is considered to be the most important cause of tissue injury in organs subjected to ischemia.

Areas of study:

Microsurgical Teaching of Surgery Residents

Microsurgical skills are taught and practiced in the lab. Multiple studies on ischemia reperfusion are conducted to elucidate the nuclear and extranuclear sequence of events in muscle flaps. VEGF Gene Transfection in Muscle and Skin Flaps Muscle flap viability can be improved with gene manipulation. Microarray Analysis of Chronic Wounds Analysis of up and down regulated genes may offer insight into healing processes.

Microarray Analysis of Skin, Bone, Soft Tissue, and Visceral Tumors

The analysis of tumors will lead to improvements in medical management of these neoplasms. Gene Expression of Burn Wounds Burn wound modulation may be possible by gene analysis following superficial and deep skin injury.

Designed Antomicrobial Peptides in Wounds and Burns Models

Antimicrobial peptides represent a new approach to fighting infection. The age of multi drug-resistant organisms is already here; however, these peptides may allow a new mechanism to combat these bacteria. It is believed that much of the bactericidal results are a result of the formation of multimeric pores that are inserted into the bacterial cell wall, leaching out cell contents.

HBO Laboratory

HBO ChamberA hyperbaric chamber is a large, steel tank that administers 100% oxygen in a high pressure environment. The chamber's specialized atmosphere resembles a deep sea dive with a maximum depth achieved of 16 stories. The effects of treatment are due to an increase in surrounding pressure, and the patient breathing 100 percent oxygen by mask or hood. This combination of concentrated oxygen and atmospheric pressure causes the blood to carry greater concentrations of oxygen to the area in need of healing. The hyperbaric oxygen lab is equipped with an animal chamber and experienced personnel. The effect of HBO on ischemia reperfusion and flap physiology is studied.

Nerve Grafting with Tubes and Cultured Schwann Cells

It is desirable to avoid the use of a nerve graft when large nerve defects are found following trauma. The use of biodegradable tubes with cultured Schwann cells may give surgeons an alternative to a nerve graft.