Background: Previous reports demonstrated that radiographic contrast medium, as used in contrast-enhanced computed tomography, increases acinar necrosis and mortality in experimental pancreatitis. The authors studied the possibility that these changes may be related to an additional impairment of pancreatic microcirculation.
Methods: Fifty Wistar rats had acute pancreatitis induced by intraductal glycodeoxycholic acid (10 mmol/L for 10 min) and intravenous cerulein (5 micrograms/kg/hr for 6 hrs). After rehydration (16 mL/kg), pancreatic capillary perfusion was quantified by means of intravital microscopy at baseline before intravenous infusion of contrast medium (n = 25) or saline (n = 25), and 30 and 60 minutes thereafter. In addition to total capillary flow, capillaries were categorized as high- or low-flow (> or < 1.6 nL/min).
Results: Pancreatic capillary flow did not change in either high- or low-flow capillaries after saline infusion. However, contrast medium infusion induced a significant decrease of total capillary flow (p < 0.001). Analysis according to the relative flow rate revealed that this was primarily because of a significant additional reduction of perfusion in low-flow capillaries (p < 0.0001). Furthermore, complete capillary stasis was observed in 15.9 +/- 3.4% after contrast medium as compared with 3.2 +/- 1.2% after saline infusion (p < 0.006).
Conclusion: Radiographic contrast medium aggravates the impairment of pancreatic microcirculation in experimental necrotizing pancreatitis.