Microsurgery Research & Training Center

Microsurgery has become a valuable tool for reconstructive surgery and plays a critical role in the surgical management of cancer patients. Our microsurgery research laboratory focuses on translational research for solving clinical problems which surgeons are confronted every day in our clinical settings. Our research team is seeking solutions in the laboratory and challenging to achieve best patient outcomes.


  • To advance microsurgery related research and academic activities
  • To provide microsurgery training and education to surgeons local and abroad
  • To develop and validate microsurgical teaching methods for trainees at all levels
  • To create a training and test center for innovative microsurgery related products

Available Resources:

  • The world renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center, located within the world’s largest medical center/complex, with enormous clinical and research resources from various medical and surgical fields
  • One of the largest, busiest and best known microsurgery departments in the world
  • 19 full-time reconstructive surgeons specializing in microsurgery
  • 7-8 clinical microsurgery fellows per year
  • One microsurgery research fellow per year

Microsurgery training program: Our team can provide an intense and comprehensive training program for trainees to operate surgical microscopes and to acquire microsurgery skills.

Research Overview

We have developed a microinjection technique which enables us to cannulate and inject different materials into vessels around 100 um in size. Various new studies can be designed with this technique, including investigation of the lymphatic system.

Lymphatic Studies in Animals

Lymphatic structure changes after cancer surgery. Better understandings of these changes will lead important clinical applications including prediction of recurrent cancer sites and etiology of lymphedema. Large animals are used to elucidate morphological changes and develop new surgical interventions.

Left: Radiographs of rat demonstrating arterial, venous, and lymphatic systems.
Center: Lymphatic vessel (canine). Right: Lymphatic capillary (rabbit).

Lymphatic Studies in Human Cadavers

Lymph node dissection is often performed as a part of surgical treatment for breast cancer and malignant melanoma to prevent malignant cells from traveling via the lymphatic system. Human cadavers are used to trace accurate lymphatic pathways.

Lymphatic Studies in Humans

Recent developed indocyanine green (ICG) fluorescent lymphography enable to demonstrate lymphatic pathways in a living human. We utilize the data to compare pathological codition of the lymphatic system between human and animals.  

Images of ICG fluorescent lymphography in hands.

Soft tissue engineering study

Skin and muscle flap serve as workhorse in reconstructive microsurgery post cancer therapy. However, availability of autologous flap and donor site morbidity significantly limit its usage. Engineered skin or muscle construct provide great promise to replace autologous soft tissue flap for reconstruction. We have developed 3D porous matrix scaffold as stem cell “home” to made cell/matrix construct for wound healing and muscle regeneration. Ongoing project on our laboratory focus on adult stem cell differentiation depend on specific microenvironment (stem cell niche).  

Tracheal reconstruction study

Reconstruction of large circumferential tracheal defects remains a significant clinical problem. Methods of reconstruction have evolved from simple implantation of prosthetic materials to autologous soft tissue flaps with supporting materials. However, none of them are ideal substitutes for the native trachea. Our effort on tracheal reconstruction study ranges from tracheal allograft tolerance induction by bone marrow based therapy to neo-tracheal engineering with 3D matrix scaffold.  

Molecular and cellular basis study of lymphedema

Breast cancer related lymphedema is a chronic, progressive, and often debilitating condition. Better diagnosis and treatment for this difficult clinical problem depend on well understanding of molecular and cellular basis of BCRL. The study we are working on is genomic analysis for BCRL endothelial cells, which will provide insights into BCRL pathophysiological process in molecular and cellular level.  


Melanie Lopresto
Surgery Dept Administrator

Hiroo Suami, M.D., Ph.D.
Director of Microsurgery Research Center
E-mail: hsuami@mdanderson.org