We have examined the feasibility of hydrogen (H2) clearance for endoscopic measurements of colonic mucosal blood flow in anesthetized dogs. In 6 animals, measurements of H2 clearance did not differ significantly in different regions of the sigmoid colon and they were highly reproducible (p < 0.001) on different days. In a total of 12 dogs, measurements of H2 clearance correlated closely with those obtained using radioactive microspheres under resting conditions and, in 4 dogs, during infusion of vasopressin (slope = 0.94, p < 0.001). In 8 dogs, ligation of the major arteries supplying the sigmoid colon resulted in an acute 60% decrease in sigmoid mucosal blood flow (p < 0.001); however, in 5 animals that survived the procedure, mucosal blood flow returned nearly to control levels as early as 3 days after operation. Endoscopic H2 clearance thus appears to be feasible for measuring mucosal blood flow in the colon. Serial measurements of H2 clearance may prove useful in characterizing the role of mucosal blood flow in the pathogenesis of various forms of human colonic disease.
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