Objective—To assess the effects of sample size and location, skin tension lines, surgeon, and formalin fixation on the extent of shrinkage that occurs in excised canine skin samples.
Animals—Cadavers of 4 adult purpose-bred mixed-breed hound dogs with grossly normal skin.
Procedures—54 circular areas of skin (2-, 4-, and 6-cm-diameter samples from each of 9 body regions on each side) were excised by 1 of 2 surgeons from each cadaver. The diameter of each sample was measured in 4 orientations (parallel to previously reported tension lines, perpendicular to tension lines, in a dorsoventral orientation, and in a craniocaudal [or rostrocaudal] orientation) at 3 time points (before and immediately after excision and after 24 hours of formalin fixation).
Results—216 samples were measured in all 4 orientations at all 3 time points. For all samples, mean ± SE decrease in diameter after fixation, compared with pre-excision findings, was 6.2 ± 0.7 mm. No significant correlations were found between percentage of skin shrinkage and surgeon, body side or region, or measurement orientation in relation to skin tension lines. The mean sample diameter immediately after excision differed significantly from that before excision (mean diameter decrease, 5.5 ± 0.7 mm). Overall, sample diameter immediately after excision and after formalin fixation did not differ.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The extent of shrinkage of skin samples from hound cadavers that occurred immediately after excision was notable. A better understanding of the effectors of excised skin sample shrinkage is needed, especially when histopathologic findings provide guidelines for surgical margins.