Open Access Research article

Comparison and evaluation of experimental mediastinitis models: precolonized foreign body implants and bacterial suspension inoculation seems promising

Gulden Ersoz1*, Barlas Naim Aytacoglu2, Nehir Sucu2, Lulufer Tamer3, Ismet Bayindir1, Necmi Kose2, Ali Kaya1 and Murat Dikmengil2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Mersin University, School of Medicine, Mersin, Turkey

2 Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, Mersin University, School of Medicine, Mersin, Turkey

3 Department of Biochemistry, Mersin University, School of Medicine, Mersin, Turkey

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2006, 6:76  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-76

Published: 25 April 2006



Post-sternotomy mediastinitis (PSM) is a devastating surgical complication affecting 1–3% of patients that undergo cardiac surgery. Staphylococcus aureus is one of the most commonly encountered bacterial pathogen cultured from mediastinal samples obtained from patients with PSM. A component of the membrane of the gram positive bacteria, lipoteichoic acid, stimulates the blood monocytes and macrophages to secrete cytokines, radicals and nitrogen species leading to oxido-inflammatory damage. This seems to be responsible for the high mortality rate in PSM. For the evaluation of the pathogenesis of infection or for the investigation of alternative treatment models in infection, no standard model of mediastinitis seems to be available. In this study, we evaluated four mediastinitis models in rats.


The rats were divided into four groups to form different infection models. Group A: A suspension of 1 × 107 colony-forming units Staphylococcus aureus in 0,5 mL was inoculated from the right second intercostal space into the mediastinum. Group B: A hole was created in the right second intercostal space and a piece of stainless-steel implant with a length of 0.5 cm was inserted into the mediastinum and a suspension of 1 × 107 cfu bacteria in 0,5 mL was administered via the tail vein. Group C: Precolonized stainless-steel implant was inserted into the mediastinum. Group D: Precolonized stainless-steel implant was inserted into the mediastinum and the bacteria suspension was also injected into the mediastinum. On the 10th day, rats were sacrificed and the extension of infection in the mediastenae was evaluated by quantitative cultures. Myeloperoxidase activity (MPO) and malondialdehyde (MDA) levels were determined in the sera to evaluate the neutrophil activation and assess the inflammatory oxidation.


The degree of infection in group C and D were 83.3% and 100% respectively (P < 0.001). MDA levels were significantly higher in these two groups than the others (P < 0.001).


Infected implants and high bacterial concentration administration were the two important components that played a significant role in the outcome of a successful infection in mediastinum in a rat model.