Hypochlorous Acid Solution Is Safe for Intracavitary Lavage

Examination in a Rodent Model

Robert L. Ball, MD; Gaurav Garg, MD; Juan Sebastian Vazquez, MD; Anna; Day, BS; Lauren T. Moffatt, PhD; Martin C. Robson, MD; Jeffrey W. Shupp, MD


ePlasty. 2021;21:e1 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: Intracavitary irrigation is a routine component of many surgical procedures, especially in those involving a contaminated field. Normal saline remains the irrigant of choice for most surgeons. Hypochlorous acid is a weak acid that produces hypochlorite ions with antimicrobial properties. Reducing microbial concentration during intracavitary irrigation is a potential benefit of using hypochlorous acid solution over normal saline. In this study, the safety of hypochlorous acid solution for intracavitary lavage was compared with normal saline in a rat model of 3 surgical procedures—laminectomy, thoracotomy, and laparotomy.

Methods: The intracavitary space was lavaged with either normal saline or hypochlorous acid. The procedures were also completed using Dakin's solution (sodium hypochlorite) as a comparator, given its known cytotoxicity. On postoperative day 5, necropsies of all animals were performed and relevant organs and blood samples obtained. Histology (hematoxylin and eosin staining) was used to examine biopsies of the collected organs for signs of inflammation, blood vessel integrity, and necrosis. Immunohistochemistry staining for caspase-3 was used to identify apoptotic cells.

Results: There were no differences in outcomes (survival, pain, and time to recovery) or histology between animals lavaged with hypochlorous acid and normal saline. Intact organ-specific architecture was observed in both groups. In comparison, rats treated with Dakin's solution demonstrated significant capsular fibrosis and hemorrhage. Furthermore, significant apoptosis was noted within the bowel mesentery of the group treated with Dakin's solution when stained for caspase-3.

Conclusion: Hypochlorous acid is safe for lavage of intraperitoneal, intrathecal, and intrathoracic cavities. Further studies should be conducted to demonstrate efficacy of hypochlorous acid in an infected field.