Jejunostomy losses of Na+ and water during enteral nutrition after massive intestinal resection may be severe. We have attempted to analyse this practical problem by using an in vivo perfusion technique in healthy volunteers to study Na+, water and nutrient absorption from a short (25 cm) segment of jejunum during perfusion of an isotonic solution of the elemental diet Vivonex. Further solutions made from the amino acid and carbohydrate components of Vivonex were also perfused in part I of the study in order to determine the causes of the marked Na+ and water secretion seen during Vivonex perfusion. Low initial Na+ concentration was found to be the major determinant of net Na+ secretion, initial Na+ concentration correlating significantly with Na+ absorption (r = 0.95, n = 7 p less than 0.001). Water absorption correlated with net absorption of NaCl (r = 0.82, n = 7 p less than 0.01). There was, however, a better correlation with total absorption of NaCl plus amino acids (r = 0.99, n = 7, p less than 0.01). In part II of the study separate isotonic solutions of NaCl, glucose, and the polymeric diet, Ensure were also studied. Net sodium secretion occurred during glucose and Ensure perfusion, as predicted from their low Na+ concentration. Owing to rapid sucrose absorption from Ensure there was substantial luminal disappearance of osmotically active particles and hence marked water absorption, which was accurately predicted using the regression equation for water absorption derived in part I, substituting sucrose absorption for amino acid absorption. We conclude that the marked Na+ and water secretion observed during Vivonex perfusion is not a unique property of this amino acid based diet but is due to its low Na+ content.
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