OBJECTIVES: Visceral injury and inflammation are evaluated in patients undergoing extracorporeal circulation (ECC) either with distal aortic perfusion (DAP) during thoracic aortic aneurysm (TAA) repair or DAP and selective organ perfusion (DAP and SP) during thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm (TAAA) repair. SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA: Visceral hypoperfusion and subsequent visceral injury, mainly to the gut, have been implicated as central events in the development of systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) and organ dysfunction after major surgery. Patients undergoing DAP or DAP and SP are exposed to artificial visceral perfusion, potentially leading to the development of intestinal injury and systemic inflammation. METHODS: To assess visceral injury arteriovenous differences of fatty acid binding proteins were measured for the gut (I-FABP and L-FABP) and left kidney (L-FABP) along with systemic plasma concentrations. Systemic ALT was used as liver injury marker. Plasma IL-6 and IL-8 denoted systemic inflammation. RESULTS: During ECC systemic I-FABP and L-FABP levels increased in both groups, representing intestinal injury. Significantly elevated levels of I-FABP (P < 0.001) and L-FABP (P < 0.001) were found in the DAP and SP group, after ECC was stopped and normal circulation restored. Liver and renal tubular cell injury was not detected. Significant increases in systemic IL-6 and IL-8 values were measured only in patients undergoing DAP and SP. Additionally, the extent of intestinal injury correlated positively with systemic inflammation. CONCLUSIONS: This study shows the development of intestinal mucosal injury during ECC with DAP or DAP and SP, indicative of insufficient intestinal perfusion. Intestinal injury was associated with a systemic pro-inflammatory response.