Encephalopathy is a common complication of sepsis. However, little is known about the morphological changes that occur in the brain during sepsis. Faecal peritonitis was induced in pigs that were killed 8 h later and frontal cortex samples were taken immediately after death. The tissue was investigated using light and electron microscopy and compared with frontal cortex samples taken from sham-operated controls. Septic pigs had 49.5% more perimicrovessel oedema than sham pigs. However, the tight junctions between cerebral microvessel endothelial cells appeared morphologically intact in both septic and sham pigs. Sepsis also resulted in neuronal injury, disruption of astrocytic end-feet and swollen, rounded erythrocytes. These morphological changes may be sufficient to underlie the clinical features seen in septic encephalopathy.

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