The effect of externally applied subatmospheric pressure on serum myoglobin levels after a prolonged crush/ischemia injury

J Trauma. 2002 Sep;53(3):537-40. doi: 10.1097/00005373-200209000-00023.


Background: Patients with injuries that cause significant muscle death often develop rhabdomyolysis. The subsequent release and entry of myoglobin into the systemic circulation leads to myoglobinuria, renal injury, and potentially acute renal failure.

Methods: Large (5 kg) adult rabbits (n = 8) were anesthetized and a 15-kg weight placed on the posterior compartment for 4 hours. After this time, the weight was removed and releasing incisions were made. Subatmospheric pressure (125 mm Hg) was continuously applied to the wounds of four rabbits. Systemic serum samples were obtained at the time of weight removal and at 2, 4, and 8 hours postremoval, and were analyzed for myoglobin content.

Results: Serum myoglobin levels were similar for both groups at the time of weight removal. Serum myoglobin levels demonstrated a progressive increase with time in nontreated animals, and were significantly elevated compared with subatmospheric pressure-treated animals at all time points (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: This study shows that application of subatmospheric pressure to an affected body part is associated with lower serum myoglobin levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / blood*
  • Animals
  • Compartment Syndromes / blood*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hindlimb / blood supply
  • Muscle, Skeletal / blood supply
  • Muscle, Skeletal / injuries*
  • Myoglobin / blood*
  • Pressure
  • Rabbits
  • Rhabdomyolysis / blood*


  • Myoglobin