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Br J Plast Surg. 1989 Sep;42(5):556-8.

The "chemical leech": intra-replant subcutaneous heparin as an alternative to venous anastomosis. Report of three cases.

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  • 1Plastic Surgery Unit, Preston and Northcote Community Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.


Three successful cases of distal finger replantation are described where suitable veins were unavailable for anastomosis after arterial flow had been re-established. To prevent infarction, calcium heparin was injected subcutaneously into the replants at intervals over 9 days. This allowed the venous blood to escape into the dressings while an adequate microvenous circulation was re-established, thus simulating the effect of a leech. Complete survival of all three distal replantations was observed. No attempted case has been unsuccessful. The procedure is simple and can be administered by the nursing staff. It avoids some of the problems associated with the use of medicinal leeches and systemic heparin. Applications of this technique in other areas of replantation and flap surgery are suggested.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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