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Vein skeleton of a Hydrangea leaf showing anastomoses of veins

An anastomosis (plural anastomoses) is a connection or opening between two things (especially cavities or passages) that are normally diverging or branching, such as between blood vessels, leaf veins, or streams. Such a connection may be normal (such as the foramen ovale in a fetus's heart) or abnormal (such as the patent foramen ovale in an adult's heart); it may be acquired (such as an arteriovenous fistula) or innate (such as the arteriovenous shunt of a metarteriole); and it may be natural (such as the aforementioned examples) or artificial (such as a surgically created one, for example, ileorectal anastomosis as part of colectomy). The reestablishment of an anastomosis that had become blocked is called a reanastomosis. Anastomoses that are abnormal, whether congenital or acquired, are often called fistulas.

The term is used in medicine, biology, mycology, geology, geography and architecture.


Anastomosis: medical or Modern Latin, from Greek ἀναστόμωσις, anastomosis, "outlet, opening," Gr ana-" up, on, upon", stoma "mouth" , "to furnish with a mouth".[1] Thus the -stom- syllable is cognate with that of stoma in botany or stoma in medicine.


A network of blood vessels

An anastomosis is the connection of two normally divergent structures.[2] It refers to connections between blood vessels or between other tubular structures such as loops of intestine.


In circulatory anastomoses, many arteries naturally anastomose with each other; for example, the inferior epigastric artery and superior epigastric artery, or the anterior and/or posterior communicating arteries in the Circle of Willis in the brain. The circulatory anastomosis is further divided into arterial and venous anastomosis. Arterial anastomosis includes actual arterial anastomosis (e.g., palmar arch, plantar arch) and potential arterial anastomosis (e.g. coronary arteries and cortical branch of cerebral arteries). Anastomoses also form alternative routes around capillary beds in areas that don't need a large blood supply, thus helping regulate systemic blood flow.


An example of surgical anastomosis occurs when a segment of intestine is resected and the two remaining ends are sewn or stapled together (anastomosed). The procedure is referred to as intestinal anastomosis. Other examples include Roux-en-Y anastomosis or ureteroureterostomy.


Pathological anastomosis results from trauma or disease and may involve veins, arteries, or intestines. These are usually referred to as fistulas. In the cases of veins or arteries, traumatic fistulas usually occur between artery and vein. Traumatic intestinal fistulas usually occur between two loops of intestine (entero-enteric fistula) or intestine and skin (enterocutaneous fistula). Portacaval anastomosis, by contrast, is an anastomosis between a vein of the portal circulation and a vein of the systemic circulation, which allows blood to bypass the liver in patients with portal hypertension, often resulting in hemorrhoids, esophageal varices, or caput medusae.



In evolution, anastomosis is a recombination of evolutionary lineage. Conventional accounts of evolutionary lineage present themselves as the simple branching out of species into novel forms. Under anastomosis, species might recombine after initial branching out, such as in the case of recent research that shows that ancestral populations along human and chimpanzee lineages may have interbred after an initial branching event.[3] The concept of anastomosis also applies to the theory of symbiogenesis, in which new species emerge from the formation of novel symbiotic relationships.


In mycology, anastomosis is the fusion between branches of the same or different hyphae.[4] Hence the bifurcating fungal hyphae can form true reticulating networks. By sharing materials in the form of dissolved ions, hormones, and nucleotides, the fungus maintains bidirectional communication with itself. The fungal network might begin from several origins; several spores (i.e. by means of conidial anastomosis tubes), several points of penetration, each a spreading circumference of absorption and assimilation. Once encountering the tip of another expanding, exploring self, the tips press against each other in pheromonal recognition or by an unknown recognition system, fusing to form a genetic singular clonal colony that can cover hectares called a genet or just microscopical areas.[5]

For fungi, anastomosis is also a component of reproduction. In some fungi, two different haploid mating types – if compatible – merge. Somatically, they form a morphologically similar mycelial wave front that continues to grow and explore. The significant difference, is that each septated unit is binucleate, containing two unfused nuclei, i.e., one from each parent that eventually undergoes karyogamy and meiosis to complete the sexual cycle.


In geology, anastomosis refers to quartz (or other) veins displaying this property, which is often related to shearing in metamorphic regions.[citation needed]


Anastomosing streams consist of multiple channels that divide and reconnect and are separated by semi-permanent banks formed of cohesive material, such that they are unlikely to migrate from one channel position to another. They can be confused with braiding, the splitting of a river by sand bars or hard rocks and some definitions require that an anastomosing river be made up of interconnected channels that enclose floodbasins.[6] Rivers with anastomosed reaches include the Magdalena River in Colombia,[7] the upper Columbia River in British Columbia, Canada,[8] and the upper Narew River in Poland.[9] The term anabranch has been used for segments of anastamosing rivers.


  1. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary Douglas Harper
  2. ^ Gylys, Barbara A.; Mary Ellen Wedding (2005), Medical Terminology Systems, F.A. Davis Company 
  3. ^ Patterson, Nick; et al. (May 2006). "Genetic evidence for complex speciation of humans and chimpanzees". Nature. 441 (7097): 1103–1108. doi:10.1038/nature04789. PMID 16710306. Retrieved 2006-09-18. 
  4. ^ Kendrick, Bryce (2001), The Fifth Kingdom, Mycologue Publications 
  5. ^ Glass L.; Rasmussen C.; Roca M.G.; Read N. (2004). "Hyphal homing, fusion and mycelial interconnectedness". TRENDS in Microbiology. 12: 135–141. doi:10.1016/j.tim.2004.01.007. 
  6. ^ Makaske, Bart (2001). "Anastomosing rivers: a review of their classification, origin and sedimentary products" (PDF). Earth-Science Reviews. 53: 149–196. 
  7. ^ Smith, D (1986). "Anastomosing river deposits, sedimentation rates and basin subsidence, Magdalena River, northwestern Colombia, South America". Sedimentary Geology. 46 (3–4): 177–196. doi:10.1016/0037-0738(86)90058-8. 
  8. ^ Abbado, D., Slingerland, R.L., and Smith, N.D., 2005, The origin of anastomosis in the upper Columbia River, British Columbia, Canada: In Blum, M.D., Marriott, S., and Leclair. S. (eds.), Fluvial Sedimentology VII, Internat. Assoc. Sedim. Special Publ. 35.
  9. ^ Gradzinski, R (2003). "Vegetation-controlled modern anastomosing system of the upper Narew River (NE Poland) and its sediments". Sedimentary Geology. 157 (3–4): 253–276. Bibcode:2003SedG..157..253G. doi:10.1016/S0037-0738(02)00236-1. 

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