Taylor: Jack Brockhoff Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Research Unit

Research Overview

Translational research has always been an integral part of the Jack Brockhoff Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Research Unit. From its embryonic origins within the basement of The Royal Melbourne Hospital the Research Unit has always focused on solving the clinical problems confronting clinicians in the actual treatment of patients. Indeed, the world's very first free flap was researched and developed by the unit to solve the particularly difficult problem of a patient presenting with a compound ground out medial ankle injury. Without well vascularised soft tissue cover the patient was to have a below knee amputation. Finding a solution required us to return to the Anatomy Laboratory to establish a suitable soft tissue donor site and then the final development of the world's first free flap.

Over the decades we have used the successful injection/dissection/radiographic method of visualizing the vascular pathways, however now we have incorporated Computed Tomography Angiography and Thermography into the studies with MRI a possibility for the future. This has proved to be a most valuable preoperative study for planning "spare tissue" skin, muscle and bone free flap donor sites from areas such as the abdominal wall, back and limbs.

Our research has steadily progressed through the issues confronting current medical science. For the past six years this has seen the development and expansion of the investigation of the lymphatics and in particular the need to study the variability in sentinel node biopsies in melanoma and the onset and development of lymphoedema following mastectomy for breast cancer or the aetiology behind the ways in which sarcomas and cancers spread.

We enjoy close collaboration with our partners at The University of Melbourne, Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, The Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and The Departments of Radiology and Surgery at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

All of anatomical studies of the neurovascular and lymphatic systems of the human body are focused on restoring not only shape and form but feeling to skin transplants and function to transferred muscles. The research is not static – as each new clinical case presents the surgery is "custom designed" to match the individual patients reconstructive needs. With each case, we research the optimal reconstructive option, many leading to new techniques of repair, and solutions to various pathological processes. For example varicose veins, skin ulceration, tendon rupture and lymphoedema.
The research has been recognized world wide with more than 65 prestigious awards by members of the Unit and an Order of Australia (AO) for Professor Taylor.

Current Projects

  • The Nerve Supply of the Biceps Tendon in the Bicipital Groove
  • Changes in Vascular Physiology in Free Flaps
  • Fascial Architecture of the Breast and Gluteal Regions and its Relevance to Plastic Reconstructive Surgery
  • The Perforator Angiosomes of the Face and their Application for Facial Reconstruction
  • The Facial Nerve and the Relationship of its Terminal Branches to the Fascial Layers and Retaining Ligaments of the Face
  • Lymphatic Drainage of the Abdomen
  • The Microvascular Anatomy of the Anterior Torso: Clinical Significance for Free Flap Donor Sites

Research Projects

This Research Group doesn't currently have any projects

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Cancer in Biomedicine, Cellular Imaging & Structural Biology

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact Head of Research Unit Professor Ian Taylor

Department / Centre

Anatomy and Physiology

Unit / Centre

Taylor: Jack Brockhoff Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Research Unit

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