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J Surg Res. 2004 Apr;117(2):262-71.

Probiotics partly reverse increased bacterial translocation after simultaneous liver resection and colonic anastomosis in rats.

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Department of General, Visceral, and Transplant Surgery, Charité, Campus Virchow, Humboldt University of Berlin, Augustenburger Platz 1, D-13353 Berlin, Germany.



Bacterial translocation is one important cause of nosocomial infections following major abdominal surgery. Oral administration of probiotics has been proposed to diminish bacterial translocation.


In total 68 rats were divided into seven groups: five of the groups received standard rat chow and were subjected to either sham-operation, 70% liver resection, colonic anastomosis, or a combination of 30 or 70% liver resection with synchronous colonic anastomosis, respectively. In two additional groups with synchronous operation, a combination of four different lactic acid bacteria and four fibers was administered two times daily pre- and postoperatively. Bacterial concentrations in cecum, mesenteric lymph nodes, liver, and spleen were analyzed and blood cultures were taken 48 h after operation. Furthermore, the following parameters were assessed: histological changes in the intestine, intestinal paracellular permeability (Ussing chamber), bursting pressure of the colonic anastomosis, and mitosis rate of the remnant liver.


Bacterial translocation was observed in all rats, except in the sham group. Following liver resection, the highest bacterial concentrations were seen in liver and spleen, following colon anastomosis in the mesenteric lymph nodes. Bacterial translocation was increased in the animals with combined operation, in parallel to the extent of liver resection. In rats with colon anastomosis, bacterial concentration in the cecum was also higher than in the sham group. Application of probiotics significantly decreased bacterial concentration in the lymph nodes. In addition, animals with a high cecal concentration of lactobacilli had less translocation than the others. No histological changes were observed in the intestine. Paracellular permeability for ions, but not for the larger molecule lactulose, was increased in the colon in all groups with colon anastomosis. The bursting pressure of the colon anastomosis was not significantly different between the groups. Seventy percent liver resection led to a high rate of hepatocyte mitosis, whereas combination with colon anastomosis impaired the regeneration process.


Synchronous liver resection and colon anastomosis led to increased bacterial translocation compared to the single operations in the rat model. It is possible to diminish this process by oral administration of probiotics. Bacterial overgrowth in the cecum and impaired hepatic regeneration, but not histological changes or alterations of paracellular permeability, are potential pathogenic mechanisms for translocation in this setting.

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