Cell-free deoxyribonucleic acid as a prognostic marker of bowel ischemia in patients with small bowel obstruction.
Background: Patients with strangulation small bowel obstruction are at a high risk for serious morbidity and mortality due to ischemic bowel. Measuring serum, cell-free deoxyribonucleic acid levels could help recognize early cell death. Our hypothesis was that small bowel ischemia or necrosis is associated with increases in serum cell-free deoxyribonucleic acid and that recovery is associated with a decrease in cell-free deoxyribonucleic acid levels.
Methods: A prospective cohort study in addition to standard treatment of patients admitted with a diagnosis of small bowel obstruction. The participants were divided into groups depending on the presence of ischemic or necrotic bowel according to operative and clinical outcome. Clinical data and serum-based cell-free deoxyribonucleic acid levels were compared. Cell-free deoxyribonucleic acid levels from these 2 groups also were compared with a third group of healthy controls.
Results: In the study, 58 patients were enrolled, and 18 patients (31%) underwent operation. During the operative procedure, ischemic or necrotic bowel was found in 10 cases (17%). Serum levels of cell-free deoxyribonucleic acid at the time of admission in the ischemic/necrotic bowel group were increased compared with patients with well perfused or spontaneously recovered bowel (P = .03). Cell-free deoxyribonucleic acid levels decreased on the day after admission in 88% of the nonoperated patients. No significant differences were found in demographics, medical background, imaging performed, and cause of obstruction nor in clinical admission data.
Conclusion: Surgeons currently rely on imprecise clinical parameters, including degree of pain, abdominal tenderness, leukocytosis etc to decide when operative intervention is needed. The association of cell-free deoxyribonucleic acid with small bowel obstruction, ischemia, and recovery supports our hypothesis and suggests that this biomarker is a potential surrogate of small bowel perfusion.