Endotoxins in plasma were monitored during treatment in 18 patients hospitalised for acute exacerbation of Crohn's disease: systemic endotoxaemia was found on admission in all but one. The patients were randomly divided into two groups: one receiving treatment with total parenteral nutrition and steroids. To decrease the absorbable endotoxin pool, the other group was additionally treated with whole gut irrigation and 5-aminosalicylic acid was added to the lavage fluid. In most of these patients endotoxaemia cleared after intestinal lavage and they needed shorter hospitalisation. Earlier improvement was also indicated by a faster decrease of the Crohn's disease activity index and vanHees index. In the group receiving conservative treatment alone, endotoxaemia was controlled within three weeks. We conclude that endotoxaemia occurs in most patients suffering from active Crohn's disease. Control of endotoxaemia after intestinal lavage suggests that systemic endotoxaemia is caused by absorption of endotoxins from the gut. Earlier improvement after whole gut irrigation indicates its beneficial effect in active Crohn's disease.
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