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Cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) has been associated with intestinal tissue hypoxia, but direct measurements of mucosal oxygenation have not been performed. In anaesthetized pigs, jejunal mucosal oxygen tension and microvascular haemoglobin oxygen saturation were measured by a Clark-type electrode and tissue reflectance spectrophotometry. In pigs, normothermic CPB with systemic oxygen transport equivalent to baseline values was performed. In control animals, mucosal oxygen tension and mucosal haemoglobin oxygen saturation were mean 5.01 (SD 1.08) kPa and 38.0 (2.3)%, respectively. CPB was associated with a decrease in mucosal oxygen tension to 2.26 (1.21) kPa, decrease in mucosal microvascular haemoglobin oxygen saturation to 26.0 (3.9)% and appearance of oscillations in mucosal microvascular haemoglobin oxygen saturation. With CPB, arterial lactate concentrations increased from 1.77 (1.37) to 3.52 (1.58) mmol litre-1, but transvisceral lactate and splanchnic venous-arterial carbon dioxide tension gradients remained unchanged. Our results support the concept that CPB is associated with diminished oxygenation of intestinal mucosa that is probably caused by regional redistribution.