Fluids and gastrointestinal function

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Abstract

Purpose of review

To highlight recent developments relating perioperative fluid therapy to gastrointestinal function by reviewing clinically pertinent English language articles mainly from January 2010 to March 2011.

Recent findings

The control of fluid and electrolyte balance involves multiple processes in which the gastrointestinal tract plays an integral role. Diseases affecting the gastrointestinal tract commonly cause fluid and electrolyte disturbance. Similarly, intravenous fluid therapy in the perioperative period can affect gastrointestinal function and have a bearing on postoperative outcome. Striking a balance, in terms of both fluid composition and volume, is likely to reduce the morbidity associated with interstitial edema, a frequently observed occurrence with contemporary perioperative fluid regimens. This balance may be best achieved using individualized and goal-directed approaches to fluid therapy, in order to provide fluid when it is needed and in the correct quantities.

Summary

In planning strategies of fluid therapy, the possibility of adverse effects on the gastrointestinal tract should be considered, as this is likely to have an impact on fluid and electrolyte balance and postoperative outcome.

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