Salvage of the injured spleen is important in the trauma patient. Loss of the spleen can result in both early and late infectious complications due to immunologic and phagocytic deficits. Splenic salvage techniques include the use of polyglycolic acid (PGA) mesh to wrap and tamponade the damaged and bleeding spleen. However, the use of mesh may increase the incidence of infection in the presence of intraperitoneal contamination. We examined whether mesh in the contaminated field increases the infection rate compared to splenectomy in a murine model. Sixty male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into three groups of 20 each: splenectomy, splenic wrap with PGA, and control (with splenic mobilization). All rats were subjected to a standard inoculum of enteric bacteria at the time of celiotomy. Sixteen (80%) of the splenectomy rats, 10 (50%) of the PGA mesh wrapped rats, and four (20%) of the control rats expired (P < 0.5). In surviving rats, necropsy at 7 days demonstrated abscess formation in all four (100%) of splenectomy, four of 10 (40%) in PGA mesh wrapped, and two of 16 (13%) of control rats. All of the abscesses in the wrap group involved the mesh. Overall infection rates (including fatal peritonitis, abscess formation, and empyema) were 100% for splenectomy, 75% for PGA mesh wrapped, and 30% for control rats (P < 0.05). We conclude in this experimental model that the use of PGA mesh wrap does increase susceptibility to infection, but much less so than splenectomy in the presence of intraperitoneal contamination.
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