The History and Innovations of Blood Vessel Anastomosis

William R. Moritz, Shreya Raman, Sydney Pessin, Cameron Martin, Xiaowei Li, Amanda Westman, Justin M. Sacks

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Surgical technique and technology frequently coevolve. The brief history of blood vessel anastomosis is full of famous names. While the techniques pioneered by these surgeons have been well described, the technology that facilitated their advancements and their inventors deserve recognition. The mass production of laboratory microscopes in the mid-1800s allowed for an explosion of interest in tissue histology. This improved understanding of vascular physiology and thrombosis laid the groundwork for Carrel and Guthrie to report some of the first successful vascular anastomoses. In 1916, McLean discovered heparin. Twenty-four years later, Gordon Murray found that it could prevent thrombosis when performing end-to-end anastomosis. These discoveries paved the way for the first-in-human kidney transplantations. Otolaryngologists Nylen and Holmgren were the first to bring the laboratory microscope into the operating room, but Jacobson was the first to apply these techniques to microvascular anastomosis. His first successful attempt in 1960 and the subsequent development of microsurgical tools allowed for an explosion of interest in microsurgery, and several decades of innovation followed. Today, new advancements promise to make microvascular and vascular surgery faster, cheaper, and safer for patients. The future of surgery will always be inextricably tied to the creativity and vision of its innovators.

Original languageEnglish
Article number75
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Anastomosis
  • Innovation
  • Microsurgery
  • Surgical history
  • Surgical technology
  • Vascular surgery


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