Purpose: To investigate in a rabbit model if prolonged periods of mesenteric ischemia followed by reperfusion may affect the rate of neurological complications.
Methods: An infrarenal aortic snare, which consisted of a Silastic vessel loop whose ends were passed through plastic tubing, was placed in 50 male New Zealand white rabbits. In 40 of these animals, a similar but smaller device was placed around the superior mesenteric artery (SMA); all devices were exteriorized to allow vessel occlusion in the awake animal. The aorta was occluded for 12 minutes in the 10 control and 40 experimental animals, but the experimental rabbits also had occlusion of the SMA for varying intervals: 10 minutes (group 1), 12 minutes (group 2), and 18 minutes (group 3). To assess the hemodynamic effects of aortic and aortic/SMA occlusion, select control and test animals had blood pressure and heart rate monitoring via indwelling carotid catheters during the occlusion periods. The animals were euthanized, and spinal cords from paralyzed and normal rabbits were examined histologically
Results: Neurological deficit occurred in 20% of controls and in 70%, 80%, and 100% in the experimental groups, respectively. There were no significant differences in systemic blood pressure at any time point during occlusion and reperfusion in the monitored control or test animals. There was no evidence of thrombosis of spinal arteries on histological analysis, nor was there evidence of bowel infarction at the time of sacrifice in animals undergoing combined aortic/SMA occlusion.
Conclusions: Mesenteric ischemia/reperfusion worsens the neurological outcome in animals undergoing transient aortic occlusion. This observation is independent of hemodynamic influences and not the result of spinal artery thrombosis.