Background The single-layer appositional serosubmucosal anastomosis is a well established technique and appears to have a favourable record. Over a 15-year period the senior author of this paper has performed or directly supervised 553 anastomoses using this technique. This report describes the results of these operations, the results of stapled anastomoses carried out during the same period and discusses the utility of the handsewn technique.
Methods From August 1986 to July 2001, 553 intestinal anastomoses in 550 patients were fashioned using single-layer, interrupted serosubmucosal 3/0 braided polyamide and 131 anastomoses in 131 patients were performed using a circular anastomosing stapler.
Results One anastomotic leakage occurred in the group of patients whose anastomosis was handsewn (0.2%) and 11 leaks occurred in those who had a stapled anastomoses (8.4%). The mortality rate in each group was similar (2% and 2.3%, respectively). There were no deaths attributable to anastomotic dehiscence in either group.
Conclusion In this prospectively audited series of 553 handsewn anastomoses the leakage rate was 0.2%. These results compare favourably with other published series and continue to support a single layer of interrupted serosubmucosal sutures as the gold standard for anastomoses involving the large or small bowel.