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Colonic anastomotic strength and matrix metalloproteinase activity in an experimental model of bacterial peritonitis. BJS 2003; 90: 981-988.

Published: 29th April 2003

Authors: I. H. J. T. de Hingh, B. M. de Man, R. M. L. M. Lomme, H. van Goor, T. Hendriks


Clinical studies report conflicting results on the safety of primary intestinal anastomoses in the presence of peritonitis, and comprehensive experimental data are lacking. The present study investigated whether the strength of experimental colonic anastomoses is affected if surgery is performed in the presence of pre‐existing bacterial peritonitis.


Colonic anastomoses were constructed in Wistar rats 24 h after caecal ligation and puncture or a sham procedure. Anastomotic strength was assessed by measuring breaking strength and bursting pressure during the first 5 days after operation. Anastomotic hydroxyproline levels were measured and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) activity was analysed by quantitative gelatin zymography.


Anastomotic strength was lowered in the presence of bacterial peritonitis but in a minor and transient way. The breaking strength was lower only immediately after construction of the anastomosis (− 15 per cent, P = 0·011) and the bursting pressure only on the third postoperative day (− 33 per cent, P = 0·038); no anastomotic dehiscence was observed. At 3 days after operation increased levels of MMP activity were observed but anastomotic hydroxyproline content was not affected by bacterial peritonitis.


The influence of bacterial peritonitis on the development of anastomotic strength is limited. This experimental finding lends support to recent clinical studies that have demonstrated the feasibility of constructing a primary anastomosis under these conditions. Copyright © 2003 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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