Treatment of frostbite with intra-arterial prostaglandin E1

R. A. Yeager, T. W. Campion, J. C. Kerr, R. W. Hobson, T. G. Lynch

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18 Scopus citations


Prostaglandin E1 (PGE1) is a vasodilator that inhibits platelet aggregation. Its use has been effective intra-arterially in treating ischemic peripheral vascular disease. Its potentially beneficial effect in treating frostbite injuries has not been studied and prompted this investigation. A standard frostbite injury was induced by immersing the hindlimbs of New Zealand white rabbits in an ethylene glycol bath maintained at -15 C. Forty animals were separated into eight equal groups (N = 5). Groups I through V were allowed to slowly rewarm at room temperature (21 - 22 C), while Groups VI through VIII underwent rapid rewarming in a water bath at 42 ± 1 C. Groups I and VI received no further treatment. Groups II and VII received intra-arterial bolus injections of saline. Group III received intra-arterial bolus injections of reserpine (2.5 x 10-3 mg/kg-1). Group IV received intra-arterial bolus injections of PGE1 (10-1 μg/kg-1). Groups V and VIII received 3-hour intra-arterial infusions of PGE1 (10-1 μg/kg-1 min-1). Tissue loss was graded numerically after 30 days. Group V (slow rewarming plus 3-hour PGE1 infusion) had significantly (P < 0.5) less tissue loss than Group I (slow rewarming alone) and Group II (slow rewarming plus saline). Group V was not significantly different from Groups VI through VIII (rapid rewarming). Group III (slow rewarming plus bolus reserpine) and Group IV (slow rewarming plus bolus PGE1) were not significantly different from Group I (slow rewarming alone). The data suggest a clinical application for the use of PGE1 in frostbite patients who have not undergone rapid rewarming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)665-667
Number of pages3
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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