Microvascular anastomosis is a critical step in the survival of free transferred tissue. It depends on a technically sound anastomosis between donor and recipient site blood vessels. This is typically achieved by suturing the vessels. There are various published methods aiming at simplifying this process by use of various devices and techniques however, to date these methods have shown little or no progress.
Aim of the study: The aim of this proof-of-principle study was to assess the use of an intraluminal expandable stent using an existing design of a cardiac stent. This device helps in achieving minimal suturing or possibly a sutureless end-to-end anastomosis.
Materials and methods: We have used uncoated bare metal 2.0 mm stent used in interventional cardiac treatment. The stent is passed halfway through the lumen on each end of the vessel to be anastomosed and it is expanded using a retrievable balloon. The adeqately expanded stent holds the blood vessel ends together. This method was used on the carotid vessels of two New Zealand male rabbits.
Results: The vessels were patent with good blood flow at 16 days post-procedure. The histological study showed complete biological healing with endothelial healing over the stent at the anastomosis.
Conclusion: This method has the potential to be used in vascular, microvascular and other luminal anastomoses in different surgical specialities. A new design (patent applied) will be discussed based on this proof of principle study.
Conflict of interest: First author holds the patent application.
Acknowledgement: This study was carried out at Northwick Park Institute of Medical Research with the help of research grant from British Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons.