To study the rate of elimination of ethanol after a major burn trauma.
Prospective, controlled study.
National burns unit in a Swedish university hospital.
Eight consecutive patients suffering from 18%-72% total burned surface area and nine healthy male control subjects.
The patients received ethanol, 0.35-0.60 g/kg body weight intravenously, during 1 hr. This was repeated daily during the first week postburn. The control subjects received the same amount of ethanol once.
Blood samples were drawn at 20- to 30-min intervals during 5 hrs after the start of the infusion. Serum ethanol was determined by headspace gas chromatography. The rate of elimination of ethanol was calculated from the concentration time profile. In the control subjects, the median elimination rate was 0.074 g/kg/hr (range, 0.059-0.083 g/kg/hr). In the patients, it was already 0.138 g/kg/hr (range, 0.111-0.201 g/kg/hr) on the first day; this increased even further over the following 6 days, reaching 0.183 g/kg/hr (range, 0.150-0.218 g/kg/hr) on the seventh day.
Ethanol elimination is augmented postburn. A more effective reoxidation of reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide seems the most likely explanation for the increased rate of ethanol elimination in these hypermetabolic trauma patients. This finding suggests that the oxidative capacity of the liver may be assessed by studying the rate of ethanol elimination in burn victims.
From the Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care (Drs. Zdolsek, Sjöberg, and Lisander) and The Burns Unit, Department of Hand & Plastic Surgery (Drs. Zdolsek and Sjöberg), University Hospital; and Department of Alcohol Toxicology (Dr. Jones), National Laboratory of Forensic Chemistry, Linköping, Sweden.
Supported, in part, by grants from the County Council of Östergötland and the Swedish Medical Society.
Address requests for reprints to: H. J. Zdolsek, MD, Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, University Hospital, S-581 85 Linköping, Sweden.