Accurate early diagnosis of a gastrointestinal anastomotic leak remains a challenge. When an anastomotic leak develops, the electrical properties of the tissue undergoing inflammatory processes change, resulting from the extravasation of inflammatory fluid and cellular infiltration. The method described here intends to provide a novel early anastomotic leak warning system based upon measurable changes in tissue impedance nearby an acute inflammatory process.
A biodegradable Mg-alloy was compared with a nonabsorbable stainless steel (STS) electrode connected to a wireless recording system for impedance measurement. In vitromeasurements were made in physiological solutions and small animal (eight mice) and large animal (eight pigs) models with an anastomotic leak simulated by an open colotomy. Measurements were made at 10 mm intervals from the open colon at baseline and up to 120 min comparing these with a sutured colonic wound and normal tissue.
In-vitro biodegradable magnesium electrode impedance evaluation showed good sensitivity to different media due to its environmental corrosion properties. The impedance of an acidic environment (1.06 ± 0.02 kΩ for citric acid) was twice that of phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) (0.64 ± 0.008 kΩ) with a distinction between Normal Saline (0.42 ± 0.013 kΩ) and PBS (0.64 ± 0.008 kΩ). This was in contrast to the performance characteristics of the control STS electrodes, where impedance in an acidic environment was lower than saline or PBS (citric acid:0.76 ± 0.01 kΩ versus PBS: 1.32 ± 0.014 kΩ). In a mouse model simulating an anastomotic leak, there was a significant increase in impedance after 120 min when compared with controls (99.7% increase versus 9.6% increase, respectively; P < 0.02). This effect was confirmed in a pig model when relative impedance measurements of the leak and control groups were compared (1.86 ± 0.46 versus 1.07 ± 0.02, respectively; P < 0.027).
Electrophysiological measurement shows diagnostic sensitivity for a gastrointestinal leak with potential clinical utility in the postoperative detection of early intra-abdominal sepsis. Further investigation of biodegradable tissue sensors capable of monitoring an early anastomotic leak is required.