A Single Postoperative Application of Nitroglycerin Ointment Does Not Increase Survival of Cutaneous Flaps and Grafts


  • C.L. Dunn, MD, D.G. Brodland, MD, R.D. Griego, MD, M.J. Huether, MD, M.J. Fazio, MD, and J.A. Zitelli, MD have indicated no significant interest with commercial supporters.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Cary L. Dunn, MD, 2032 Hawthorne St., Sarasota, FL 34239.


BACKGROUND. Nitroglycerin is a vasodilator that has been reported to improve cutaneous flap and graft survival. It has not been tested in controlled studies.

OBJECTIVE. We designed our study to test the effectiveness of a single postoperative application of nitroglycerin on flap and graft survival.

METHODS. Eighty-eight surgical repairs received topical nitroglycerin and 85 received control ointment (polysporin). Treatment sites were evaluated on postoperative day 7 and assigned a percentage of surface area survival.

RESULTS. There was no significant difference in the complication rate of flaps and grafts treated with nitroglycerin (12.5%) compared with those treated with control ointment (8.4%) (P = .244). Subset analysis of flaps as a group and grafts as a group were not meaningful because the complication rates were so low.

CONCLUSION. There is no survival increase of flaps and grafts treated with a single application of nitroglycerin ointment.