Background: Sutureless microvascular anastomosis has great translational potential to simplify microvascular surgery, shorten operative times, and improve clinical outcomes. The authors developed a transient thermoreversible microvascular stent using a poloxamer to maintain vessel lumen patency before application of commercially available adhesives to seal the anastomosis instead of sutures. Despite technical success, human application necessitates bovine serum albumin removal from existing formulations; rapid poloxamer transition between states; and increased stiffness for reliable, reproducible, and precise microvascular approximation.
Methods: Two commercially available poloxamers were used in this study (P407 and P188). After removing bovine serum albumin, each poloxamer was tested at varying concentrations either alone or in combination to determine the optimal preparation for sutureless microvascular anastomosis. Transition temperature and formulation stiffness were tested in vitro by rheometry, with the most promising combinations tested in an established in vivo model.
Results: Increasing poloxamer concentration resulted in an increase in stiffness and decrease in transition temperature. Pure P188 without bovine serum albumin, dissolved in phosphate-buffered saline to a 45% concentration, demonstrated desirable rheologic behavior, with precise gel transition and increased gel stiffness compared with our previous formulation of 17% P407 (96 kPa versus 10 kPa). These characteristics were optimal for microsurgical intravascular use, offering surgical precision and control between liquid and solid states, depending on the surgically controlled local temperature.
Conclusions: Use of 45% P188 without bovine serum albumin demonstrated optimal rheologic and translational properties as a microvascular stent for sutureless anastomosis. Rapid transition, increased stiffness, and safety profile demonstrate safe translational application for human clinical trials.