Oxygen consumption (V̇O2) and colonic temperature (T(c)) were measured in groups of rats and after 30% total body surface, full thickness burns. Some wounds were seeded with Pseudomonas aeruginosa or Staphylococcus epidermidis, and some seeded wounds were treated with Sulfamylon® or Silvadene®. Three groups became bacteremic (B) during the 2-3 week period of observation. At an ambient temperature (T(a)) of 32 C, V̇O2 of the B groups rose from 0.83 ± 0.01 to 1.20 ± 0.01 ml/hr/g (mean ± S.E., p < 0.001) versus 0.81 ± 0.01 to 0.99 ± 0.02 for nine nonbacteremic (NB) groups (p < 0.001). T(c) increased only in the B groups - from 36.8 ± 0.1 to 37.7 ± 0.1 C (p < 0.001). In the second or third week postinjury, V̇O2 of the NB rats was reduced when T(a) was increased to 34 C; T(c) followed changes in T(a). Sulfamylon lowered V̇O2 of P. aeruginosa seeded, NB rats. The metabolic cost of wound contamination appeared to vary with bacterial strain. The metabolic effects of infection appear to be a continuum, beginning with a modest rise in V̇O2 and progressing to greater increases in V̇O2 and T(c) with wound invasion and systemic infection.
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