Vascular anatomy of the small intestine—a comparative anatomic study on humans and pigs

  • Klaus-Thilo von Trotha
  • Nick Butz
  • Jochen Grommes
  • Marcel Binnebösel
  • Natascha Charalambakis
  • Georg Mühlenbruch
  • Volker Schumpelick
  • Uwe Klinge
  • Ulf P. Neumann
  • Andreas Prescher
  • Carsten J. Krones
Original Article



Porcine models are well established for studying intestinal anastomotic healing. In this study, we aimed to clarify the anatomic differences between human and porcine small intestines. Additionally, we investigated the influences of longitudinal and circular sutures on human small intestine perfusion.


Intestines were obtained from human cadavers (n = 8; small intestine, n = 51) and from pigs (n = 10; small intestine, n = 60). Vascularization was visualized with mennige gelatin perfusion and high-resolution mammography. Endothelial cell density was analyzed with immunohistochemistry and factor VIII antibodies. We also investigated the influence of suture techniques (circular anastomoses, n = 19; longitudinal sutures, n = 15) on vascular perfusion.


Only human samples showed branching of mesenteric vessels. Compared to the pig, human vessels showed closer connections at the entrance to the bowel wall (p = 0.045) and higher numbers of intramural anastomoses (p < 0.001). Porcine main vessels formed in multifilament-like vessel bundles and displayed few intramural vessel anastomoses. Circular anastomoses induced a circular perfusion defect at the bowel wall; longitudinal anastomoses induced significantly smaller perfusion defects (p < 0.001). Both species showed higher vascular density in the jejunum than in the ileum (p < 0.001). Human samples showed similar vascular density within the jejunum (p = 0.583) and higher density in the ileum (p < 0.001) compared to pig samples.


The results showed significant differences between human and porcine intestines. The porcine model remains the standard for studies on anastomotic healing because it is currently the only viable model for studying anastomosis and wound healing. Nevertheless, scientific interpretations must consider the anatomic differences between humans and porcine intestines.


Bowel perfusion Porcine anatomy Human anatomy Anastomotic healing 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Klaus-Thilo von Trotha
    • 2
  • Nick Butz
    • 1
  • Jochen Grommes
    • 2
  • Marcel Binnebösel
    • 1
  • Natascha Charalambakis
    • 1
  • Georg Mühlenbruch
    • 3
  • Volker Schumpelick
    • 1
  • Uwe Klinge
    • 1
    • 4
  • Ulf P. Neumann
    • 1
  • Andreas Prescher
    • 5
  • Carsten J. Krones
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SurgeryRWTH Aachen University HospitalAachenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Vascular SurgeryRWTH Aachen University HospitalAachenGermany
  3. 3.Department of Diagnostic RadiologyRWTH Aachen University HospitalAachenGermany
  4. 4.Applied Medical EngineeringHelmholtz Institute RWTH AachenAachenGermany
  5. 5.Institute of Anatomy, Medical FacultyRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany

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