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Early albumin use improves mortality in difficult to resuscitate burn patients

Park, Sandra H.; Hemmila, Mark R. MD; Wahl, Wendy L. MD

Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: November 2012 - Volume 73 - Issue 5 - p 1294–1297
doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e31827019b1

BACKGROUND The optimal resuscitation algorithm remains elusive for patients with a large burn injury. Recent reports from the military support that larger burns that do not respond well to ongoing lactated Ringer’s solution resuscitation may improve with the use of 5% albumin and vasopressors. We hypothesized that the use of 5% albumin and vasopressors, as needed, would decrease complications of fluid resuscitation and burn mortality.

METHODS Fluid needs during the first 24 hours after burn injury, complications, and demographics were collected from all patients 12 years and older with burn size 20% or more of total body surface area admitted from 2003 to 2010. In March 2007, we changed our resuscitation to include the use of 5% albumin in the first 24 hours if the estimated fluid needs at 12 hours after burn would lead to a fluid volume of 6 mL/kg per percent burn at 24 hours. The patients treated before this change (Preprotocol) were compared with those treated after the guideline change (Postprotocol).

RESULTS The two groups were well matched for age, burn size, and inhalation injury. Ventilator days and mortality were decreased in the Postprotocol group. There was a trend toward less intravenous fluid use in the Postprotocol group where the use of albumin was higher. There was significantly less vasopressor infusion in the Postprotocol group. There was no statistical difference in the number of escharotomies performed or overall incidence of abdominal compartment syndrome, but no patient required open laparotomy in the Postprotocol group.

CONCLUSION An algorithm incorporating albumin use in the first 24 hours after burn injury was associated with the use of less vasopressor agents and lower mortality. Early albumin use was also associated with a shorter duration of mechanical ventilation in burn patients sustaining burns 20% or more total body surface area.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Therapeutic study, level IV.

From the University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Submitted: May 11, 2012, Revised: June 22, 2012, Accepted: June 29, 2012.

Address for reprints: Wendy L. Wahl, MD, Trauma and Surgical Critical Care, Saint Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, 5301 E. Huron River Dr, Suite 2482, Ann Arbor, MI 48109; email:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.