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Crit Care. 2014 Jul 16;18(4):R153. doi: 10.1186/cc13992.

A new device for continuous assessment of gut perfusion: proof of concept on a porcine model of septic shock.



We evaluate an innovative device consisting of an enteral feeding tube equipped with a photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor in contact with the duodenal mucosa. This study aims to determine if the PPG signal, composed of a continuous (PDC) and a pulsatile part (PAC), is a reliable method to assess gut perfusion in a porcine model of septic shock.


Fourteen piglets were anesthetized and mechanically ventilated. They were randomly assigned to two groups: the nonseptic (NS) group received an infusion of Ringer's lactate solution (RL) alone, the septic (S) group received in addition a suspension of live Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Heart rate (HR), pulse oximetry (SpO2), mean arterial pressure (MAP), cardiac index (CI) and serum lactates were recorded and gut microcirculation (GM) was monitored with a laser Doppler probe applied on the duodenal serosa. PDC and PAC were given by the PPG probe inserted in the duodenum. Data was collected every 15 minutes (t0, t15…) during 150 minutes (t150). After administration of the bacteria suspension (t0), resuscitation maneuvers were performed following a defined algorithm. GM PAC, and PDC were expressed as variation from baseline (GMvar, PACvar, PDCvar). Analysis of variance (ANOVA) with repeated measures was performed to compare hemodynamic variables, with Bonferroni correction as post hoc analysis on t0, t60 and t150.


One piglet was withdrawn from analysis due to a defective probe. S group (six piglets) received resuscitation therapy while NS group (seven piglets) did not. A significant group effect was found for the all parameters except HR. Post hoc analysis found a significant decrease for GM and PAC at t60. The correlation between PAC, PDC and microcirculatory parameters were as follows: rPACvar-GMvar = 0.496, P <0.001, rPDCvar-GMvar = 0.244; P = 0.002. In the septic group, correlations were as follows: rPAC-lactate = -0.772, P <0.001; rPDC-lactate = -0.681, P <0.01). At the onset of shock, a decrease of PAC, PDC and GM occurred before the alteration of MAP.


PAC and PDC decreased at the onset of shock and were correlated with GM and lactate. These results confirm that PPG signal reliably reflects the early perfusion alteration of the gut. Further studies should assess the clinical use of this device.

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