Prophylactic penicillin, splenic autotransplantation, and immunization using pneumococcal vaccine have all been shown to reduce the incidence and mortality of postsplenectomy sepsis. However, little is known regarding the effect of penicillin in established infection or the effect of prior infection in either asplenic controls or animals with autotransplanted splenic tissue. An animal model with bacterial introduction via the lungs was used to investigate the effect of penicillin, splenic autotransplantation, and previous exposure to the infecting organism on the mortality of postsplenectomy sepsis. One hundred fifty-nine rats underwent either sham celiotomy, intraperitoneal splenic autotransplantation, or splenectomy. Twelve weeks postoperatively all animals were challenged using Streptococcus pneumoniae delivered transtracheally. Half of each group received procaine penicillin by intramuscular injection for 5 days beginning 24 hr post bacterial inoculation and mortality was observed. Eight weeks later surviving rats that had received penicillin were reinoculated with the same organism and mortality was again observed. Splenic autotransplantation reduced the early mortality in postsplenectomy sepsis. Prior bacterial exposure reduced the mortality in postsplenectomy sepsis, even in splenectomized animals. Treatment with penicillin produced a marked reduction in mortality even when administration was postponed for 24 hr after bacterial inoculation.
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