Closed postoperative peritoneal lavage (CPPL) with chlorhexidine gluconate reduces the number of intraperitoneal bacteria and improves the outcome of intra-abdominal infection.
Laboratory animal trial.
Intra-abdominal infection was produced in mice by the cecal ligation and puncture technique. After 16 to 18 hours, the animals underwent relaparotomy and placement of an intra-abdominal catheter for CPPL. In the first experiment animals were randomly divided into 4 groups: no lavage (served as a control), CPPL with chlorhexidine, CPPL with cefoxitin, and CPPL with lactated Ringer solution (LR). Lavage was continued intermittently every 8 hours for 24 hours. All animals received systemic cefoxitin every 8 hours for 7 days. Mortality was recorded every 8 hours for 10 days. In the second experiment, animals were divided into 3 groups: no lavage (served as a control), CPPL with chlorhexidine, and CPPL with LR. Lavage was continued intermittently every 8 hours for 24 hours. The animals were killed 48 hours after reoperation. Bacterial counts from peritoneal fluid and biopsy specimens, as well as peritoneal white blood cell counts, were measured before and after lavage.
Closed postoperative peritoneal lavage with chlorhexidine reduced mortality from 71% in a control group to 37% (P = .003). There was no survival benefit in either the CPPL with cefoxitin (91% mortality) (P = .14) or CPPL with LR groups (90% mortality) (P = .17). The statistically significant findings of analysis of variance evaluation demonstrated a decrease in bacterial counts after cecal excision in all 3 groups. There was a greater reduction in bacterial counts in the chlorhexidine group compared with the control group (P<.05). Bacterial counts decreased in peritoneal fluid, as well as in tissue biopsy specimens, after cecal excision. White blood cell counts significantly decreased after cecal excision in all 3 groups. There was no difference in white blood cell counts between the groups. Correlation analyses demonstrated weak interaction between bacterial and white blood cell counts before or after treatment in all the groups. Pearson r ranged from −0.37 to +0.35, none of which were statistically significant.
In our experiments chlorhexidine lavage resulted in a 50% reduction in mortality and a significant reduction in bacterial counts compared with the control group. There was no survival benefit from lavage with either cefoxitin or LR. There was no reduction in bacterial counts in the LR group relative to the control group. Thus, the survival benefit and the reduction in bacterial numbers are attributed to the antibacterial properties of chlorhexidine rather than to the mechanical washing of the abdominal cavity. Closed postoperative peritoneal lavage with 0.05% chlorhexidine gluconate might be useful in the multimodal treatment of intra-abdominal infection.