The main function of the anus is to expel the waste that remains after food digestion, but in the case of rodents and pigs, the anus can have another function; through this part of the body, vital oxygen could be delivered to their bodies. This study, which was published on May 14 in the journal Med, could be useful in creating a new way to support critically ill patients with respiratory failure, according to the senior study author Takanori Takebe.
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In the new study, Takebe and his collaborators provide evidence for intestinal breathing in rats, mice, and pigs. First, they designed an intestinal gas ventilation system to administer pure oxygen through the rectum of mice. They showed that without the system, no mice survived 11 minutes of extremely low-oxygen conditions. With intestinal gas ventilation, more oxygen reached the heart, and 75% of mice survived 50 minutes of normally lethal low-oxygen conditions.
Because the intestinal gas ventilation system requires abrasion of the intestinal muscosa, it is unlikely to be clinically feasible, especially in severely ill patients—so the researchers also developed a liquid-based alternative using oxygenated perfluorochemicals. These chemicals have already been shown clinically to be biocompatible and safe in humans.
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Learn more details about the study over at PHYS.org.
(Image Credit: PHYS.org)