Selective inhibitors of inducible cyclo-oxygenase (COX-2) are of potential benefit in the perioperative period for both their analgesic and, perhaps, antineoplastic actions. However, their effects on laparotomy and intestinal wound healing are unknown.
Forty adult Sprague–Dawley rats underwent laparotomy, descending colonic transection and handsewn reanastomosis. The animals were randomized to receive either a selective COX-2 inhibitor (rofecoxib, 10 mg/kg) or an equal volume of water by gavage before operation and then daily after surgery. Animals were killed after 3 or 7 days, and their wounds were evaluated by means of tensiometry (skin and colonic wounds) and bursting pressure measurement (colonic anastomoses). In addition, haematoxylin and eosin-stained intestinal sections were examined and scored by a blinded independent observer.
Five animals that received rofecoxib had anastomotic leaks by day 7 compared with none in the control group (P = 0·048). Intact colonic suture lines were also significantly weaker in this group (tensile strength at day 3, P = 0·043; bursting pressure on days 3 and 7, both P = 0·019). Skin wound strengths were similar in the two groups at both time points.
Although beneficial in the treatment of pathological inflammation, selective COX-2 inhibitors may adversely affect colonic anastomotic healing. Copyright © 2004 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.