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To determine the suitability of a single-layer continuous technique for intestinal anastomosis in a surgical training program.Several recent reports have advocated the use of a continuous single-layer technique for intestinal anastomosis. Purported advantages include shorter time for construction, lower cost, and perhaps a lower rate of anastomotic leakage. The authors hypothesized that the single-layer continuous anastomosis could be safely introduced into a surgical training program and that it could be performed in less time and at a lower cost than the two-layer interrupted anastomosis.The study was conducted during a 3-year period ending September 1999. All adult patients requiring intestinal anastomosis were considered eligible. Patients who required anastomosis to the stomach, duodenum, and rectum were excluded. Patients were also excluded if the surgeon did not believe either technique could be used. Patients were randomly assigned to one- or two-layer techniques. Single-layer anastomoses were performed with a continuous 3–0 polypropylene suture. Two-layer anastomoses were constructed using interrupted 3–0 silk Lembert sutures for the outer layer and a continuous 3–0 polyglycolic acid suture for the inner layer. The time for anastomosis began with the placement of the first stitch and ended when the last stitch was cut. Anastomotic leak was defined as radiographic demonstration of a fistula or nonabsorbable material draining from a wound after oral administration, or visible disruption of the suture line during reexploration.Sixty-five single-layer and 67 two-layer anastomoses were performed. The groups were evenly matched according to age, sex, diagnosis, and location of the anastomosis. Two leaks (3.1%) occurred in the single-layer group and one (1.5%) in the two-layer group. Two abscesses (3.0%) occurred in each group. A mean of 20.8 minutes was required to construct a single-layer anastomosis versus 30.7 minutes for the two-layer technique. Mean length of stay was 7.9 days for single-layer patients and 9.9 days for two-layer patients; this difference did not quite reach statistical significance. Cost of materials was $4.61 for the single-layer technique and $35.38 for the two-layer method.A single-layer continuous anastomosis can be constructed in significantly less time and with a similar rate of complications compared with the two-layer technique. It also costs less than any other method and can be incorporated into a surgical training program without a significant increase in complications.