Millecam, J., van Bergen, T., Devreese, M. 2020. Gastrostomy tube placement via a laparotomic procedure in growing conventional piglets to perform multidose preclinical paediatric drug studies. Laboratory Animals 54(3), 261-271.

The use of juvenile conventional pigs as a preclinical animal model to perform pharmacokinetic (PK), pharmacodynamic (PD) and safety studies for the paediatric population is increasing. Repetitive oral administration of drugs to juvenile pigs is however challenging. A representative method which can be used from birth till adulthood is necessary. The current study presents the placement and use of a gastrostomy button in pigs with a weight ranging from 2.4 to 161 kg. The surgical placement was performed via a laparotomic procedure on, each time, 12 pigs (six male, six female) of 1 week, 4 weeks, 8 weeks and 6–7 months old. For every age category, eight pigs were part of a PK study with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and four pigs served as a control group. No severe complications were observed during surgery. The button remained functional for 10 days in 40 out of 48 pigs. No significant differences in body temperature or white blood cell count were observed during the trial. Three control pigs showed signs of inflammation indicating a NSAID might be warranted. Autopsy revealed minimal signs of major inflammation in the abdominal cavity or the stomach. A limited number of pigs showed mucosal inflammation, ulcers or abscesses in the stomach or around the fistula. These results indicate that the laparotomic placement of a gastrostomy button might be considered safe and easy in growing pigs to perform repetitive oral dosing preclinical studies. However, the method is not advised in pigs weighing more than 100 kg.

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