Methods: Fifty patients who underwent elective infrarenal abdominal aortic aneurysm repair were studied. Venous blood was taken before operation, throughout surgery and for 7 days after operation. CD16 expression was measured, unstimulated and following further stimulation, by means of flow cytometry. Phagocytosis was determined using flow cytometry.
Results: Some 36 patients had an uncomplicated recovery; 14 developed SIRS or sepsis. There was no difference between the two groups with respect to nutritional, co-morbid or technical factors. In the group that developed septic complications after operation, the level of PMN CD16 expression was significantly higher before surgery (mean channel fluorescence (MCF) 30.2 versus 10.4; P 0.05, Mann-Whitney U test) and throughout the postoperative period. Surgery produced no change in CD16 expression. After operation, stimulation of PMNs in the septic group resulted in a fall in CD16 expression (40.8 versus 20.4 MCF; P 0.05, Mann-Whitney U test); surgery produced no change in the level of expression in the uncomplicated group.
Conclusion: This study provides evidence of phenotypic and functional differences in neutrophil behaviour in patients who develop sepsis following aneurysm surgery.