A tissue retention spool is disposed on the anvil actuating rod of an intraluminal anastomotic surgical stapling instrument. Tubular tissue is gathered and held on the spool by a suture tie, thus eliminating the previously required purse-stringing procedure. The spool and rod are constructed to initially resist relative sliding motion as the spool is withdrawn into the staple carrier/cylindrical scalpel area prior to setting of staples and internal tissue excision. The combined spool and instrument serve to hold tubular tissue in an erect, closed condition, facilitating the use of closed surgical techniques, without purse-stringing, in limited access areas such as lower colon resections. Alternative spools and methods are included.