Hyperthermia is a promising method for increasing the efficacy of radiation therapy of colorectal cancer. To study the histological aspects of healing of an anastomosis in the colon, after combined preoperative (sham) irradiation and (sham) hyperthermia treatment, 48 male Wistar rats were divided randomly into four groups. In each animal, a segment of the colon was treated successively by (sham) irradiation (single dose of 25 Gy X rays) and/or (sham) hyperthermia (44°C, 30 min). After 5 days, a resection of the colon was performed by construction of an anastomosis: The distal limb consisted of (sham-) irradiated and/or (sham-) hyperthermia-treated bowel. Rats were killed 3 or 7 days after the surgical procedure. Evaluation of healing of the anastomosis was made by: (1) histological analysis of sections stained with hematoxylin and eosin, (2) semiquantitative measurement of collagen in the area of the anastomosis and (3) semiquantitative analysis of the number of macrophages by immunocytochemistry. Healing of the anastomoses in animals receiving irradiation or hyperthermia alone and in control animals was relatively uneventful. There were no differences between groups in formation of collagen or infiltration by macrophages in the area of the anastomosis. Animals treated with both radiation and hyperthermia showed marked necrosis, infiltration by polymorphonuclear leukocytes and rupture of the anastomosis. It is concluded that preoperative irradiation with a single dose of 25 Gy in combination with local hyperthermia at 44°C for 30 min leads to disturbed repair of anastomoses.

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