Background: Burn patients have impaired myocardial function and decreased β-adrenergic responsiveness. Further β-adrenergic dysfunction from systemic absorption of topically administered epinephrine that is given to limit blood loss during burn excision could affect perioperative management. The authors evaluated the effect of topical epinephrine administration to patients during burn excision on the lymphocytic β-adrenergic response. Methods: Fifty-five patients (age, 2-18 yr) with 20-90% body surface area burns received a standardized anesthetic for a burn excision procedure. Lymphocyte samples were taken at baseline and 1 and 3 h after the initial use of epinephrine (n = 43) or thrombin (controls, n = 12). Plasma epinephrine levels were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography. Lymphocyte β-adrenergic responsiveness was assessed by measuring production of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) after stimulation with isoproterenol, prostaglandin E1 (PGE1), and forskolin. β-adrenergic receptor binding assays using iodopindolol and CGP12177 yielded β-adrenergic receptor density. Results: Epinephrine levels were elevated at 1 h (P < 0.01) and 3 h (P < 0.01) after epinephrine use but not in control patients. Production of cAMP in lymphocytes 1 h after epinephrine was greater in patients receiving epinephrine than in control patients on stimulation with isoproterenol (P < 0.05) and PGE1 (P < 0.05). Three hours after epinephrine administration, production of cAMP decreased when compared with baseline in both control patients and those receiving epinephrine after stimulation with isoproterenol (P < 0.05), PGE1 (P < 0.05), and forskolin (P < 0.05). Lymphocytic β-adrenergic receptor content was not changed. Conclusions: Topical epinephrine to limit blood loss during burn excision resulted in significant systemic absorption and increased plasma epinephrine levels. Acute sensitization of the lymphocytic β-adrenergic cascade was induced by the administration of epinephrine reflected by increased cAMP production after stimulation with isoproterenol and PGE1. The lymphocytic β-adrenergic cascade exhibited homologous and heterologous desensitization 3 h after the use of epinephrine or thrombin, indicating that epinephrine administration was not a causative factor.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine