Intensive careIntestinal failureKutayli, Ziad N; Domingo, Carlos B; Steinberg, Steven MAuthor Information Department of Surgery, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA Correspondence to Steven M. Steinberg, MD, 410 West 10th Avenue, Doan Hall N-717, Columbus, OH 43210, USA Tel: +1 614 293 3185; fax: +1 614 293 4030; e-mail: [email protected] Current Opinion in Anaesthesiology: April 2005 - Volume 18 - Issue 2 - p 123-127 doi: 10.1097/01.aco.0000162829.51399.52 Buy Metrics Abstract Purpose of review The gastrointestinal tract plays a major role in critical illness. We will review four common problem areas pertaining to the gut and abdominal compartment that intensivists managing critically ill patients must deal with on an everyday basis. Recent findings In the area of enteral nutrition, there have been concerns that early feeding in hemodynamically unstable patients might cause bowel infarction by increasing the gut oxygen consumption beyond splanchnic oxygen delivery. The most recent data suggest that early enteral feeding, even when patients are receiving vasopressors, is safe and may actually protect the gut by increasing gut perfusion. Although there are no new treatments for ileus, in most critically ill patients ileus primarily affects the stomach and large intestine, and most patients who are diagnosed with ileus may still be fed enterally as long as they are fed distal to the stomach. Diarrhea is a common occurrence in the intensive care unit, particularly in patients who are being fed enterally. Of most import is the realization that Clostridium difficile infection is ubiquitous and must be considered in virtually every case of diarrhea. Abdominal compartment syndrome is usually a result of shock, and its resuscitation with increased intra-abdominal pressure results in many untoward hemodynamic and respiratory events. Early recognition and treatment seem to be associated with improved outcome. Summary Continued progress in the areas of optimal nutritional support, understanding the implications of alterations in immune function of the gut, and the avoidance of such morbid complications as abdominal compartment syndrome are expected. © 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.