Perioperative Fluid Accumulation Impairs Intestinal Contractility to a Similar Extent as Peritonitis and Endotoxemia

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Perioperative resuscitation with large amounts of fluid may cause tissue edema, especially in the gut, and thereby impairing its functions. This is especially relevant in sepsis where capillaries become leaky and fluid rapidly escapes to the pericapillary tissue. We assessed the effects of endotoxemia and peritonitis, and the use of high and moderate volume fluid resuscitation on jejunal contractility. We hypothesized that both endotoxemia and peritonitis impair jejunum contractility and relaxation, and that this effect is aggravated in peritonitis and with high fluid administration.


Pigs were randomized to endotoxin (n = 16), peritonitis (n = 16), or sham operation (n = 16), and either high (20 mL/kg/h) or moderate volume (10 mL/kg/h) fluid resuscitation for 24 h or until death. At the end of the experiment, jejunal contractility and relaxation were measured in vitro using acetylcholine and sodium nitroprusside reactivity, and the effect of nitric oxide synthase inhibition (NOS-I) was assessed.


Mortality in the respective groups was 88% (peritonitis high), 75% (endotoxemia high), 50% (peritonitis moderate), 13% (endotoxemia moderate and sham operation high), and 0% (sham operation moderate volume resuscitation). Although gut perfusion was preserved in all groups, jejunal contractility was impaired in the two peritonitis and two endotoxemia groups, and similarly also in the sham operation group treated with high but not with moderate volume fluid resuscitation (model-fluid-contraction-interaction, P = 0.036; maximal contractility 136 ± 28% [average of both peritonitis, both endotoxemia and sham operation high-volume groups) vs. 170 ± 74% of baseline [sham operation moderate-volume group]). NOS-I reduced contractility (contraction-inhibition-interaction, P = 0.011) without significant differences between groups and relaxation was affected neither by peritonitis and endotoxemia nor by the fluid regimen.


Intestinal contractility is similarly impaired during peritonitis and during endotoxemia. Moreover, perioperative high-volume fluid resuscitation in sham-operated animals also decreases intestinal contractility. This may have consequences for postoperative recovery.

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