Severe burn causes metabolic disturbances that can last for a year after injury; persistent and profound catabolism hampers rehabilitative efforts and delays the meaningful return of individuals to society. The simplest, effective anabolic strategies for severe burn injuries are: early excision and grafting of the wound; prompt treatment of sepsis; maintenance of environmental temperature at 30-32°C; continuous feeding of a high carbohydrate, high protein diet, preferably by the enteral route; and early institution of vigorous and aerobic resistive exercise programmes. To further keep erosion of lean body mass to a minimum, administration of anabolic agents, recombinant human growth hormone, insulin, oxandrolone, or anticatabolic drugs such as propranolol are alternative approaches. Exogenous continuous low-dose insulin infusion, β blockade with propranolol, and use of the synthetic testosterone analogue oxandrolone are the most cost effective and least toxic pharmacological treatments to date.
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