Artificial femoral arterio-venous (AV) shunts are widely used in rodent models for studying shunt maturation and to optimize various surgical techniques. However, little is known about complex circulatory, microcirculatory, and hemorheological effects of end-to-side saphenous AV shunts. We aimed to study these parameters in mature AV shunts. Studying these questions in CD rats, end-to-side anastomoses were made between the left saphenous artery and vein. On the right-side the nonoperated saphenous vessels served as own control. Furthermore healthy control animals were also investigated. On the 8th to 12th postoperative week microcirculatory and blood flow measurements were performed and blood samples were taken both from the shunt's arterial and venous limbs and from the nonoperated side vessels. Hematological parameters, erythrocyte aggregation, and deformability were determined. The entire shunt and the control vessels were removed for histological examinations. The skin microcirculation on shunt side slightly increased on thigh and decreased on paws versus the nonoperated side. Blood flow measurements made directly on the vessels showed that arterial to venous blood flow rate ratio was 1.59 ± 0.29 on nonoperated side and 1.2 ± 0.13 on the shunt side, and 1.49 ± 0.05 in control animals. Erythrocyte aggregation and deformability worsened on the shunt side. Histologically increased number of smooth muscle elements and connective tissue were found in venous limb of the shunts. The artificial AV shunt between the saphenous artery and vein seems to be a suitable model for further functional-morphological and hemorheological examinations of hemodialysis in various states and diseases.
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