Vagotomy significantly increases the rate of proliferation of intestinal epithelial cells in dogs—a finding which may help explain the occurrence of steatorrhea and diarrhea following vagotomy in humans.
A group of investigators at the University of California Medical School, San Francisco, used a radioisotope-labeled precursor of nuclear DNA (tritiated thymidine) to study the migration and life span of intestinal epithelial cells.
Explaining the purpose of the work in a report to the annual meeting in Milwaukee of the Society of University Surgeons, William Silen, MD, commented:
"Many of the effects of vagotomy upon the stomach have been thoroughly studied and are well known. Little attention, however, has been directed toward the consequences of vagal resection upon the other abdominal viscera....
"The sporadic occurrence of steatorrhea and profound diarrhea after vagotomy in humans focuses attention upon possible alterations imposed by this operation upon the epithelium of the small intestine,"