Mouse Paws Good for Investigating Pyogenic Flexor Tenosynovitis

Although an infected finger may not sound like a big deal, the closed-space bacterial infection known as pyogenic flexor tenosynovitis (PFT) has been described as “one of the most devastating infections in the upper extremity.” PFT can rapidly spread from one digit to another, and the incidence of posttreatment complications—including adhesions and tendon tears—has been reported to be as high as 38%.

In a recent issue of JBJS, Qiu et al. report on a mouse model that could help us better understand the pathophysiology of PFT—and more efficiently test established and novel ways of treating it. Previous basic-science investigations into PFT have relied on avian models, but those have proven to be expensive and hard to scale and maintain.

What the Researchers Did:

  • Inoculated the tendon sheath of 36 male mouse hind-paws with bioluminescent forms of either Staphylococcus aureus or sterile saline
  • Monitored the infected and control cohorts for bioluminescence values and clinical signs such as digit swelling and body-weight reduction
  • Performed histological analysis of control and infected paws

What the Researchers Found:

  • A significant increase in bioluminescence in the infected group for the first 2 days after infection
  • Significantly lower weights in the infected animals compared with controls
  • Swelling, scar formation, collapse of the intrasheath space, and thickening of the tendon sheath itself in the infected group

Qiu et al. say this mouse model “could serve as a platform in further understanding the pathophysiology of PFT” and could help evaluate therapies aimed at reducing scarring and stiffness.

Click here to read the JBJS Clinical Summary on Infections of the Hand by Ryan Calfee, MD.

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