Background: Surgical manipulation of the intestine results in the massive movement of leukocytes into the intestinal muscularis at 24 hours. This is associated with muscle inhibition. The aim of this study was to temporally associate leukocyte extravasation with ileus after surgical manipulation.
Methods: Rats underwent a simple manipulation of the small bowel and were killed at various times (0, 0.25, 0.5, 1, 3, 6, 12, and 24 hours) postoperatively. Jejunal circular-muscle contractile activity was assessed in a standard organ bath. Both extravasating and resident leukocytes were immunohistochemically stained in muscularis whole mounts.
Results: Contractile activity was significantly reduced immediately after surgery, but rapidly returned to control levels at 3 hours. After recovery, muscle function decreased at 12 and 24 hours (41% and 81%, respectively). The resident muscularis macrophage network demonstrated cellular activation 1 hour postoperatively. The number of leukocytes increased over time (neutrophils, 67.5-fold; monocytes, 98.2-fold; and mast cells, 47-fold at 24 hours).
Conclusions: The functional results demonstrate a biphasic response in the suppression of muscle activity after surgical manipulation. Regression analysis (r2 = 0.998) of the temporal development of leukocyte infiltration and the protracted phase of muscle inhibition provides evidence for a correlation between cellular inflammation and postoperative dysmotility.