For experimental liver transplantation in the rat, the models that have been used most frequently do not include reconstruction of the arterial blood supply to the liver. In these procedures, specially developed cuff anastomoses rather than the conventional microvascular suture technique are used almost exclusively in the recipient operation, so that the anhepatic time is minimized. In this study the technical details of an improved rat model for orthotopic liver transplantation are described. During the donor operation in this experimental method, the liver is prepared with an arterial pedicle that includes the abdominal segment of the aorta, permitting perfusion in situ of the portal vein as well as the hepatic artery. The transplantation of the excised donor organ into the recipient site is carried out with simplified microvascular suture techniques and includes reconstruction of the arterial supply to the liver. Anastomosis of the bile duct is accomplished by choledocho-choledochostomy with a splint technique and supplemental suturing. For the entire procedure, magnifying glasses with 2- to 2.5-fold magnification are sufficient. When this technique has been mastered, the average duration of the anhepatic phase is about 20 min, well below the critical 30-min limit for survival of the experimental animals. As proficiency increased, the perioperative mortality was reduced to 9.2% (n = 130). With the combination of portal and arterial in situ flushing during the donor operation and the rearterialization of the transplant during the recipient operation, the clinical conditions can be approximated more closely than is possible when the transplanted rat liver is supplied only by the portal vein. Use of microvascular suture techniques, without cuff anastomoses, reduces the need for ex situ handling of the donor organ.
- Arterial reconstruction
- Microvascular suture techniques
- Orthotopic liver transplantation
- Rat model