The achievement of patency of the microvascular anastomosis in free flap surgery is dependent on a number of factors, central to which is atraumatic handling of the vessel lumen, and intimal apposition. Initial laboratory studies demonstrating the superiority of the non-penetrating vascular closure staple (VCS – Anastoclip ®) were followed by our report in 1999 on a series of free flaps. There is still a paucity of data in the literature on the use of non-penetrating devices for microvascular anastomosis, and our review gives evidence to support the routine use of the VCS in microsurgical free flap surgery. We now report on its successful use over a thirteen year period in 819 free flap reconstructions. Our data indicates the VCS device to be as effective as sutured anastomoses in free tissue transfer surgery. There is also statistically significant data (Barnard’s Exact Test) to demonstrate a higher vascular patency rate of the VCS device over sutured anastomoses when sub group analysis is performed. ‘Take-back’ revision rates were lower amongst flaps that employed VCS use. For arterial anastomoses, this equated to 3/654(0.05%) vs 4/170(2.4%) with hand-sewn anastomoses (p = 0.02). Similarly, for venous anastomoses the ‘take-back’ revision rate was 7/661(1.1%) vs 8/165(4.8%) with hand-sewn anastomoses (p = 0.003). Furthermore, the major advantage of the VCS is reduction in anastomosis time, from approximately 25 min per anastomosis for sutures to between five and 10 min for staples.
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Published online: October 12, 2011
Accepted: August 21, 2011
Received: May 29, 2011
☆This body of work has not been presented previously.
© 2011 British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.