Duration of extremity tourniquet application profoundly impacts soft-tissue antibiotic exposure in a rat model of ischemia-reperfusion injury

Lee C. Mangum, Gerardo R. Garcia, Kevin S. Akers, Joseph C. Wenke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Introduction: Extremity tourniquet (TNK) application is an effective means of achieving compressible hemorrhage control in the emergency prehospital and clinical trauma setting. Modern United States military medical doctrine recommends TNK use to prevent lethal hemorrhage from extremity injury, followed by systemic prophylactic antibiotics to prevent wound infection. Because tissue pharmacokinetics of prophylactic antimicrobials during and after TNK-induced limb ischemia are largely unknown, this study was conducted to empirically determine the relationship between TNK application time and soft tissue antibiotic exposure in order to guide medical personnel in the management of extremity trauma. Materials and Methods: Hind limbs of anesthetized male Sprague Dawley rats were exsanguinated, and ischemia maintained by a pneumatic cuff placed at the level of the mid femur on one limb; the non-ischemic contralateral limb served as comparison tissue. Systemic prophylactic antibiotics (cefazolin, moxifloxacin, or ertapenem) were administered intravenously before or after TNK release following 2 or 4 h of ischemia with subsequent re-dosing every 12 h for 3 days. Free antibiotic in the interstitial fluid (ISF) of the tibialis anterior muscle of both hind limbs was recovered via microdialysis during ischemia and over three periods during reperfusion: immediately following TNK release, at 24 h post TNK release, and at 72 h post TNK release. Plasma and ISF free drug concentrations were determined by high-performance liquid chromatography. Results: Tourniquet application prevented delivery of prophylactic antibiotics into distal soft tissue for the duration of ischemia, and caused a profound reduction in skeletal muscle drug exposure for up to 72 h following TNK release. A progressive decline in tissue antibiotic exposure during reperfusion was observed as TNK times increased from 2 h to 4 h. The timing and severity of reduced drug distribution in post-ischemic skeletal muscle varied substantially among the three antibiotic classes evaluated. Conclusions: Prolonged tourniquet application can significantly reduce distribution of prophylactic antibiotics into soft tissue during and after ischemia, potentially impairing prophylaxis of extremity wound infection. Our findings support the examination of alternative approaches to wound infection prophylaxis under conditions of delayed casualty evacuation when occlusive hemorrhage control measures are utilized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2203-2214
Number of pages12
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibiotic
  • Ischemia-reperfusion injury
  • Tourniquet
  • Wound infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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