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April 1997

Recovery of Gastrointestinal Tract Motility and Myoelectric Activity Change After Abdominal Surgery

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Surgery and Radiology, University of Virginia Health Sciences Center, Charlottesville, Va.

Arch Surg. 1997;132(4):410-417. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1997.01430280084013

Objective:  To investigate the relationship between fedstate gastrointestinal tract (GI) function and upper GI myoelectric changes seen after abdominal surgery.

Design:  Twenty-one adult female mongrel dogs underwent either an open cholecystectomy, a laparoscopic cholecystectomy alone, or a laparoscopic cholecystectomy with peritoneal injury (n=7 for each group). Bipolar recording electrodes were placed on the antrum and 3 sites of the proximal small intestine to record fasting myoelectric data each morning postoperatively. Solid-phase, technetium Tc 99m gastric emptying studies were performed on postoperative days 1 and 2. Radiopaque markers were ingested just before operation, and the excreted markers were counted using x-ray films of the feces.

Main Outcome Measures:  Postoperative fasting GI myoelectric activity, gastric emptying, and intestinal transit time.

Results:  Migrating motor complexes (MMCs) in the small intestine were observed in 33.3% and 75.0% of the dogs on postoperative days 1 and 2, respectively. Gastric dysrhythmias were observed in 23.8% and 45.0% of the dogs on postoperative days 1 and 2, respectively. No relationship between type of surgery and the presence of MMCs or gastric dysrhythmias was noted. Gastric emptying was delayed on postoperative day 1 and was unrelated to the presence of MMCs. Transit time was not significantly delayed in dogs without MMCs on postoperative day 1 compared with that in dogs with MMCs on that day. The presence of gastric dysrhythmias did not affect transit time studies.

Conclusion:  Fasting GI myoelectric activity, including the return of MMCs and the presence of gastric dysrhythmias, does not accurately predict fed-state gastrointestinal GI function following abdominal surgery.Arch Surg. 1997;132:410-417