Background: Intestinal ischemia can lead to fatal complications if left unrecognized during surgery. The current techniques of intraoperative microvascular assessment remain subjective. Probe-based confocal laser endomicroscopy (pCLE) has the potential to objectively evaluate microvascular blood flow in real-time setting. The present study evaluated the technical feasibility of real-time intestinal bloodstream evaluation using pCLE in a porcine intestinal ischemia model. Methods: Seven pigs were used. The intestinal ischemia model was prepared by sequentially dividing the mesenteric blood vessels. The intestinal bloodstream was evaluated on its serosal surface using pCLE (Cellvizio 488 probe, Ultra Mini O) at every 1-cm segment from a vessel-preservation border (i.e., the cut end of the vessel). Images of the blood vessels and flow of red blood cells (RBCs) in each visualized vessel were semi-qualitatively assessed using a 3-scale scoring system. In addition, 25 surgeons blindly assessed the 10 movies recorded at 0, 1, 2, 3, and 5 cm from a vessel-preservation border using a 4-scale scoring system to confirm the consistency of the evaluation of the pCLE system. Results: Images of the blood vessels were successfully obtained from the cut end of the vessel to the segment 4 cm away. Good unidirectional flow of RBCs was observed from the cut end to the 2-cm segment, whereas the flow became bidirectional between 2 and 3 cm segments. Beyond 4 cm, no flow images were obtained. The specimen obtained from the segment beyond 4 cm showed remarkable mucosal color change, which was confirmed as a necrotic change histologically. The evaluations from the cut end of the vessel to the segment 1 cm away by surgeons were excellent or good and it was almost consistent. Conclusions: Real-time bloodstream evaluation using pCLE is feasible and potentially effective for predicting intestinal ischemia during surgery.
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