Background: Initiated either by thermal injury or mechanical trauma, the systemic inflammatory response syndrome stimulates activation of coagulation and fibrinolysis, evolving into a subclinical disseminated intravascular coagulation.
Method: Hemostatic parameters, interleukin-6, and endothelin plasma levels were compared in burn and trauma patients. Nineteen patients with major burn injury (>or=to40% total body surface area) were compared with 35 trauma patients with Injury Severity Scores > 25 on day 1 and days 5 to 8.
Results: Thrombin-antithrombin levels were significantly higher in trauma patients than in burn patients (p < 0.0001) on day 1, and endothelin was significantly higher on days 1 and 5 (p < 0.0001) in trauma patients than in burn patients. Interleukin-6 plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, and tissue plasminogen activator levels were elevated above normal limits on both days in both groups.
Conclusion: There was a difference in the degree and level to which homeostasis was perturbed between the two groups. The mechanism of injury did not affect the initiation of subclinical disseminated intravascular coagulation and cytokine release, and the physiologic response remained the same.