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Total bilirubin in nasogastric aspirates: A potential new indicator of postoperative gastrointestinal recovery

G Miyano
H Nakamura
T Takahashi
GJ Lane
A Yamataka


Background: The aim of our study was to investigate if total bilirubin (T-bil), amylase (Amy), and sodium (Na) in nasogastric (NG) aspirates can refl ect gastrointestinal motility reliably.

Materials and Methods: NG aspirates from all laparotomies lasting more than 150 min in children less than 12 months old were studied for 3 months. Color of aspirates and intensity of bowel sounds were graded every 3 h by nursing staff and aspirate samples for measuring T-bil, Amy, and Na were collected independently every 12 h until an oral fluid challenge was tolerated.

Results: There were 26 subjects. Mean age at surgery was 5.6 months; mean body weight at surgery was 5.8 kg. No postoperative complications occurred. While there was no reduction in average volume of NG aspirates, color change was subjective, and bowel sounds could not be standardized, T-bil decreased over time (0d: 4.4 mg/dL; 0.5d: 2.7 mg/dL; 1.0d: 1.6 mg/dL; 1.5d: 1.3 mg/dL; 2.0d: 0.4 mg/dL; 2.5d: 0.33 mg/dL; 3.0d: 0.21 mg/dL; 3.5d: 0.15 mg/dL; 4.0d: 0.06 mg/dL; 4.5d: 0.05 mg/dL; 5.0d: 0.02 mg/dL; 5.5d: 0.02 mg/dL; 6.0d: 0.01 mg/dL). Amy and Na were inconclusive.

Conclusion: T-bil levels in NG aspirates may be useful as a reliable objective quantitative marker of gastrointestinal motility postoperatively.

Key words: Amylase, nasogastric aspirates,sodium, total bilirubin