End-to-Side Venous Anastomosis With an Anastomotic Coupling Device for Microvascular Free-Tissue Transfer in Head and Neck Reconstruction

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The purpose of this study is to demonstrate the success rate of using a coupling device for end-to-side venous anastomosis in patients undergoing free-tissue transfer (FTT) in head and neck reconstruction.

Methods and Measures:

Retrospective data were collected in consecutive series of 134 patients undergoing surgical resection of head and neck tumors followed by FTT. All microvascular FTTs were performed at Yale-New Haven Hospital between November 2001 and August 2007. The Unilink coupling device was used to perform arterial and venous anastomosis in this case series. Flap survival and thrombosis of the venous anastomoses were determined.


One hundred thirty-four consecutive patients underwent a total of 137 microvascular FTTs using a coupling device. In our series, a total of 173 end-to-side anastomoses were completed in 96 patients. Of these, 77 patients had both venous anastomoses, 17 underwent one end-to-side and one end-to-end anastomoses, and two patients had one venous anastomosis per patient performed in end-to-side fashion. Reconstruction included 76 radial forearm, 17 fibula, and three rectus abdominis free flaps. There were three vascular insufficiency related complications of which two were salvageable. There was one case of flap failure (1%), resulting in a free flap survival rate of 99%.


This largest reported series of end-to-side venous anastomoses with an anastomotic coupling device demonstrates feasibility and efficacy of this technique in head and neck reconstruction.

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