The high thrombogenicity of synthetic biomaterials has limited their use for reconstructive microsurgery. Prime factors in the thrombogenicity of synthetic materials in contact with blood include gas nuclei at the blood gas interface as well as the inherent thrombogenicity of the materials themselves. Expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) vascular prostheses were denucleated by placement in acetone and ethanol followed by degassed saline or by placement in degassed saline subjected to hydrostatic pressure. Heparinized grafts were prepared by coating with tridodecylmethylammonium chloride (TDMAC), followed by immersion in heparin. Grafts were installed to reconstruct the femoral artery (1 X 10 mm) or as renaliliac bypasses (1 x 50 mm) in rats. In the femoral artery reconstruction model, control grafts thrombosed within 10 minutes of implantation. All acetone denucleated femoral grafts remained patent for 60 minutes but were occluded at day 1. All pressure denucleated femoral grafts remained patent for 60 minutes, whereas six were patent at 1 month. In contrast, 11 of 15 heparinized femoral grafts were patent at 1 month. In the renal iliac bypass model, all control grafts were thrombosed within 10 minutes, whereas all heparin bonded grafts remained patent at 1 month. This finding confirms that removal of air from small diameter ePTFE grafts decreases acute thrombogenicity and that heparin bonding further decreases thrombogenicity, suggesting that clinically useful lengths of microvascular prostheses may be possible.
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