Complications arising from gastrointestinal anastomosis failures are a major source of morbidity and mortality. This review examines the effects of local blood flow on anastomotic healing, and discusses strategies for improving perfusion. Disruption of blood supply plays a significant role in the development of anastomotic leakage. Several methods have been suggested to improve perfusion. Omental pedicles have been employed as buttresses to promote angiogenesis, but efficacy in preventing anastomotic dehiscence has not been established. The administration of exogenous pharmacologie agents (such as vascular endothelial growth factor) is another potential strategy, although the oncological safety of this approach has been questioned. Two techniques which show promise in reducing anastomotic leakage rates include the vascular augmentation of grafts at risk for ischemia (supercharging) and ischemic conditioning (utilizing the delay phenomenon). Further studies of these strategies are needed to establish their efficacy and safety for routine use in gastrointestinal anastomoses.
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