Background Post-burn hyperglycemia leads to graft failure, multiple organ failure, and death. A hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp is used to keep serum glucose between 60 and 110 mg/dL. Because of frequent hypoglycemic episodes, a less-stringent sliding scale insulin protocol is used to maintain serum glucose levels between 80 and 160 mg/dL after elevations >180 mg/dL. Study Design We randomized pediatric patients with massive burns into 2 groups, patients receiving sliding scale insulin to lower blood glucose levels (n = 145) and those receiving no insulin (n = 98), to determine the differences in morbidity and mortality. Patients 0 to 18 years old with burns covering ≥30% of the total body surface area and not randomized to receive anabolic agents were included in this study. End points included glucose levels, infections, resting energy expenditure, lean body mass, bone mineral content, fat mass, muscle strength, and serum inflammatory cytokines, hormones, and liver enzymes. Results Maximal glucose levels occurred within 6 days of burn injury. Blood glucose levels were age dependent, with older children requiring more insulin (p < 0.05). Daily maximum and daily minimum, but not 6 am, glucose levels were significantly different based on treatment group (p < 0.05). Insulin significantly increased resting energy expenditure and improved bone mineral content (p < 0.05). Each additional wound infection increased incidence of hyperglycemia (p = 0.004). There was no mortality in patients not receiving insulin, only in patients who received insulin (p < 0.004). Muscle strength was increased in patients receiving insulin (p < 0.05). Conclusions Burn-induced hyperglycemia develops in a subset of severely burned children. Length of stay was reduced in the no insulin group, and there were no deaths in this group. Administration of insulin positively impacted bone mineral content and muscle strength, but increased resting energy expenditure, hypoglycemic episodes, and mortality. New glucose-lowering strategies might be needed.
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