What is the role of GI dysfunction in the pathophysiology of multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS) in sepsis?

Updated: Jan 27, 2020
  • Author: Ali H Al-Khafaji, MD, MPH, FACP, FCCP, FCCM; Chief Editor: Michael R Pinsky, MD, CM, Dr(HC), FCCP, FAPS, MCCM  more...
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The gastrointestinal (GI) tract may help propagate the injury of sepsis. Overgrowth of bacteria in the upper GI tract may be aspirated into the lungs, producing nosocomial or aspiration pneumonia. The normal barrier function of the gut may be affected, allowing translocation of bacteria, endotoxins, and normal digestive proteases into the systemic circulation and extending the septic response.

Septic shock can cause paralytic ileus that can lead to a delay in the institution of enteral feeding. Excess NO production is thought to be the causative agent of sepsis-induced ileus. The optimal level of nutritional intake is interfered with in the face of high protein and calorie requirements. Narcotics and muscle relaxants can further worsen GI tract motility.

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