Objective: This study evaluated the usefulness of plasma intestinal fatty-acid binding protein (IFABP) levels in the early identification of intestinal necrosis (IN) in patients undergoing different types of aortic surgery.
Background: Intestinal compromise greatly contributes to postoperative adverse outcome. IN is the most detrimental form of intestinal compromise and is notoriously difficult to diagnose. IFABP is a small protein exclusively expressed by mature enterocytes and a promising marker of intestinal damage.
Methods: Plasma IFABP concentrations were measured in blood samples taken perioperatively from 55 patients undergoing open thoracic or thoracoabdominal aneurysm repair [OR-TAA(A)], 25 patients undergoing conventional open abdominal aneurysm repair (OR-abdominal aortic aneurysm [AAA]), and 16 patients undergoing endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR). Data were compared with perioperative changes in arterial pH and serum lactate levels.
Results: IFABP levels increased in all patients undergoing OR-TAA(A) and OR-AAA reaching peak levels shortly after surgery; 281 ± 33 to 2,298 ± 490 pg/mL (P < 0.001) and 187 ± 31 to 641 ± 176 pg/mL (P < 0.05) respectively. IFABP levels were significantly higher in patients undergoing OR-TAA(A) (P < 0.001). IFABP levels in EVAR patients remained at baseline concentrations throughout the study. Four patients [2 OR-AAA, 2 OR-TAA(A)] developed fatal postoperative intestinal ischemia on day 2 or 3. High levels of plasma IFABP at the end of surgery had 100% sensitivity and 98.1% specificity for the identification of patients developing IN. In OR-AAA patients, arterial pH and lactate levels were of additional discriminating value. Complete discrimination between patients with and without IN using plasma IFABP could be made on the first postoperative day.
Conclusions: Analysis of plasma IFABP levels is of additional value to other current plasma markers in the diagnosis of IN, and it enables early identification of patients with IN after aortic surgery days before clinical diagnosis.