Effects of early postoperative 5-fluorouracil and ageing on the healing capacity of experimental intestinal anastomoses

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Results from a previous study suggested that advanced age does not affect early repair of experimental intestinal anastomoses. The present study aimed to establish whether anastomotic healing is impaired more easily in old animals by immediate postoperative chemotherapy.


Young adult (2-3 months) and old (27-30 months) rats underwent resection and anastomosis of both ileum and colon. Within each age group, subgroups received intraperitoneal saline or 5-fluorouracil in a dose of 15 or 20 mg per kg per day from the day of operation onwards. After 7 days, anastomotic healing was assessed by wound strength and collagen deposition in the wound area.


No differences were found between young and old control groups. The higher dose of fluorouracil induced severe loss of strength with concomitant reduction of wound collagen, which was similar in both age groups (ileum: from 52(13) to 24(8) volume per cent in young animals and from 56(10) to 20(9) volume per cent in old animals; colon: from 58(10) to 37(18) volume per cent in young animals and from 65(5) to 30(17) volume per cent in old animals). The lower dose of fluorouracil induced a significantly greater loss of strength, measured as the bursting pressure, in the old animals (150(49) versus 201(59) mmHg in colon of young rats).


In this model early anastomotic repair in older animals proceeds normally under optimal conditions, but it is more easily disturbed in the presence of fluorouracil.

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