The gut is the site of digestion and absorption as well as serving as an endocrine and immune organ. All of these functions may be affected by critical illness. This review will discuss secondary effects of critical illness on the gut in terms of gastrointestinal function that is clinically observable and discuss consequences of gut dysfunction with critical illness to patient outcome. Because there is little evidence-based medicine in the veterinary field, much of our understanding of gut dysfunction with critical illness comes from animal models or from the human medical field. We can extrapolate some of these conclusions and recommendations to companion animals, particularly in dogs, who have similar gastrointestinal physiology to people. Additionally, the evidence regarding gut dysfunction in veterinary patients will be explored. By recognizing signs of dysfunction early and taking preventative measures, we may be able to increase success with treatment of critical illnesses.
- stress-related mucosal disease