The deleterious effects of devitalized liver in the peritoneal cavity of the dog are well known. Since Mann9 in 1922 first observed that completely hepatectomized animals lived longer than those in which a small amount of liver was left free in the abdomen, and Mason and Davidson12 first described in detail the fatal peritonitis associated with this phenomenon, numerous investigators have attempted to explain the mechanisms responsible for the almost invariably lethal outcome. Several conflicting explanations, each supported by some evidence, have evolved from the many experiments.
A number of investigators5,6,8 are of the opinion that death is due to an overwhelming bacterial infection, the devascularized liver serving as a medium for rapid growth of bacteria normally present in animal tissues. Others1,11,13,19 believe that the lethal agents are toxic products of liver autolysis and that these result from the action of bacteria on the devitalized liver.