The Paradigm of Surgical Ellipse Dimensions: Are the Length-to-Width Ratio of 3 to 4 and a Vertex Angle of 30º Correct?
Abstract: Background: It has been postulated that elliptical cutaneous excisions must possess a length-to-width ratio of 3 to 4 and a vertex angle of 30o or less in order to be closed primarily without creating a “dog ear”. These dimensions became axiomatic in cutaneous surgery and have been taught in the apprenticeship model for years. The present article examines the validity of that paradigm. Methods: We collected data from two sources: ellipses described in the literature (57 cases); and elliptical excisions performed at the authors’ outpatient clinic (83 cases). The surgical ellipse lengths, widths, and vertex angles were analyzed, and the data were compared to a mathematical formula used to generate a fusiform ellipse. Results: The length-to-width ratio of 3 - 4 was found to be inconsistent with the recommended vertex angle of 30o. In fact, a length-to-width ratio of 3 - 4 determines a vertex angle of 48o - 63o. A 30o vertex angle is only feasible with long length-to-width ration of about 7.5. Conclusions: The paradigm that surgical ellipses should have a vertex angle of 30o with length-to-width ratio of 3 - 4 is incorrect. Evidence from actual surgical practice and from mathematical formulation shows that either the length-to-width ratio must be larger than 3 - 4 or the vertex angle must be larger than 30 degrees.
Cite this paper: T. Tilleman, M. Tilleman and M. Neumann, "The Paradigm of Surgical Ellipse Dimensions: Are the Length-to-Width Ratio of 3 to 4 and a Vertex Angle of 30&ordm; Correct?," Surgical Science, Vol. 4 No. 4, 2013, pp. 236-240. doi: 10.4236/ss.2013.44045.
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