Clinical evaluation and qualitative (visual) and quantitative (fluorometric) fluorescence for predicting intestinal viability were compared in an animal model of temporary arterial occlusion with early revascularization. Quantitative fluorescence was determined with a perfusion fluorometer after an intravenous bolus of fluorescein. Qualitative fluorescence was determined by examination under a Wood's lamp in a darkened room. The effectiveness of each diagnostic technique in determining nonviability was expressed in terms of sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy. All three methods had 100 percent specificity; only bowel deemed nonviable proved to be so. Quantitative fluorescence also had a 100 percent sensitivity, but clinical evaluation and qualitative fluorescence had only a 33 and 11 percent sensitivity, respectively (some segments of bowel that were ultimately nonviable were not correctly predicted to be so). The inaccuracy of qualitative fluorescence was due to the fact that ischemic intestine with a hyperfluorescent pattern often progressed to necrosis. Fluorometric quantitation identified those hyperfluorescent segments that were viable. This study suggests that visual fluorescence is not reliable in assessing intestinal viability after early revascularization after arterial occlusion, but quantitative fluorometric fluorescence is reliable in almost all instances.
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