Study: Pigs and rats can breathe through the rectum, humans may be able to

Research has shown that mammals such as pigs and rats can breathe through the rectum in the absence of oxygen. Pictured is a group of pigs.

Scientists found that mammals such as pigs and rats have an aquatic ability to breathe through the rectum in the absence of oxygen, and humans may also have this ability. For patients with severe respiratory failure, this discovery may provide a life-saving method.

For a long time, scientists have known that aquatic organisms such as sea cucumbers can use their lungs or gills other than the rectum to absorb oxygen in the absence of oxygen. Although scientists have conducted numerous experiments to confirm whether mammals also have this ability, only recently has a decisive conclusion been reached.

According to a study published in the journal Med, mammals such as pigs and rats can indeed use their rectum to breathe, which can help significantly increase the probability of survival and recovery after respiratory failure occurs.

In the study, Takanori Takebe, a professor at Tokyo Medical and Dental University and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Japan, and colleagues conducted experiments on rats and pigs, respectively. Takanori Takebe and colleagues conducted experiments on rats and pigs.

They began by designing a rectal gas ventilation system to manage the amount of pure oxygen passing through the rats’ rectum. Without this system, no rats could survive 11 minutes of extreme hypoxia. With the help of the system, more oxygen reached the heart of the rats, which in turn allowed 75% of the rats to survive for 50 minutes in extremely low oxygen conditions.

Because the rectal gas ventilation system wears down the intestinal mucosa, it is not clinically feasible, especially for critically ill patients, so researchers have also developed a liquid oxygenated perfluorochemical as an alternative. This chemical is compatible and safe for humans.

The researchers said that when rats were in a non-lethal environment with only 10 percent oxygen, those who obtained the liquid compound through the anus were able to walk farther and more oxygen reached their hearts.

The researchers used the same method to conduct experiments on pigs. It was found that pigs that received oxygen through the rectum in low-oxygen conditions had less cold and paler skin, and an increased ability to walk.

Takebe pointed out in a statement that artificial respiration plays an important role in responding to respiratory failure caused by serious diseases such as pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome.

He said that if the oxygen supply in this study is upgraded to a human level, it could be used to treat patients with severe respiratory failure problems, thus providing a life-saving method.