Microvascular anastomotic patency is the most important factor in determining a successful outcome in free-flap transfers. End-to-end and end- to-side techniques have been shown to provide equivalent arterial patency rates in clinical and basic science studies, and end-to-side anastomoses have been used extensively in microsurgical reconstruction. Nevertheless, the effect of venotomy shape on the patency of venous end-to-side anastomoses has not been previously reported. The purpose of this study was to compare the patency rates of end-to-side anastomoses using different techniques in both arteries and veins. In total, 104 Sprague-Dawley rats were subdivided into four groups. The rats were anesthetized, and anastomosis was performed on either the femoral artery or vein on the right with the left used as control. Vesselotomy was varied between an end-to-side hole and an end-to-side slit with patency measured immediately following surgery and at 2 weeks. No significant difference in patency or histology between these techniques was demonstrated in any group. We conclude there is no difference in patency rate between the two techniques in arterial or venous vesselotomies; however, in small vessels < 1.5 mm, the slit technique is technically easier, and clinical recommendations are given.
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