Background. Gastric tube formation is a surgical technique to reestablish the continuity of the gastrointestinal tract after esophagectomy. Our aims were to study the microcirculatory consequences of experimental gastric tube formation and characterize the effects of thoracic epidural anesthesia (TEA) during this condition. Methods. The experiments were performed on mongrel dogs anesthetized with pentobarbital. The stomach was prepared for replacement according to the method of Akiyama, and TEA was induced with bupivacaine (1 mg/kg). Macrohemodynamics, intramucosal pH, and gastric motility changes were monitored, and intravital video-microscopy with orthogonal polarization spectral imaging technique was used to observe the gastric microcirculation. Results. The gastric pull-up induced a significant decrease in intramucosal pH. The functional capillary density of the mucosa or subserosa did not change; the red blood cell velocity in the capillaries of the upper part of the gastric tube was decreased in the mucosa, as well as on the serosal side. After epidural anesthesia the red blood cell velocity returned to the baseline, and the gastric and intestinal motility index was significantly increased. Conclusions. TEA significantly improves the microcirculation of the distal portion of the gastric tube and increases the intestinal and gastric motility after gastric pull-up. The procedure is favorable and should be recommended during reconstructive esophageal surgery.
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