Achieving uterine auto-transplantation in a sheep model using iliac vessel anastomosis: a short-term viability study

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2015 Mar;94(3):245-52. doi: 10.1111/aogs.12550. Epub 2014 Dec 25.


Objective: To investigate, develop and evaluate anatomical, surgical and anastomotic aspects necessary for a successful uterine transplant in a large-animal model.

Design: Sheep model; longitudinal study involving five ewes.

Setting: Royal Veterinary College, London, UK.

Population: Five ewes of proven fertility.

Methods: The uterine allograft along with the internal iliacs, and uterine arterial and venous tree all intact were harvested en bloc. An end-to-side anastomosis was performed between the external iliac vessels and the internal iliac vessels of the graft using 6-0 polypropylene. Successful reperfusion of the graft was initially judged by the color shift of the uterus during reperfusion. Blood flow past the venous and arterial anastomotic sites was also ensured by visual inspection, together with pulse oximetry and multispectral imaging.

Main outcome measures: Operative details (retrieval, ischemic, clamping, reperfusion and recipient hysterectomy duration); physiological profiles; gross morphology and histopathology.

Results: Five autotransplants were performed. One procedure was abandoned because of the inappropriate size of sheep model. Another procedure was halted because the animal suffered from respiratory failure in the immediate intra-operative period. Three transplants were completed. In those, at least two of four possible anastomoses were finished and the grafted uteri demonstrated immediate perfusion and appropriate viability 45 min post-operatively.

Conclusions: Internal to external iliac vessel anastomoses are an acceptable surgical technique that should be applied in a human model to ensure adequate subsequent uterine perfusion.

Keywords: Composite tissue allograft; anastomosis; fertility; sheep; uterus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anastomosis, Surgical / methods*
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Iliac Artery / surgery*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Models, Animal*
  • Sheep, Domestic
  • Transplantation, Autologous
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Uterus / blood supply
  • Uterus / transplantation*