Increased survival after major thermal injury: The effect of growth hormone therapy in adults

J. Knox, R. Demling, D. Wilmore, P. Sarraf, A. Santos, B. A. Pruitt, J. R. Saffle, D. H. Ahrenholz, S. Miller, G. D. Warden, K. J. Farrell, T. K. Hunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Background: Advances in the management of patients with major thermal injury have resulted in a progressive increase in survival rates. We report preliminary data evaluating the safely and potential efficacy of human growth hormone (HGH) administration in a high-risk population of burned patients. Methods: From 1989 to 1993, 69 patients sustaining major burns (defined as patient age plus percentage of body surface area with deep second- and third- degree burns ≥ 90) were evaluated. Patients routinely received anti- inflammatory pharmacotherapy including antioxidants, an endotoxin binder, and cyclooxygenase blockade. Half of the 54 patients who survived more than 7 days received HGH to enhance wound healing. Injury severity, morbidity, and mortality for patients receiving HGH was compared to the 27 patients not receiving HGH. Results: For the entire population (n = 69), average age was 56 ± 23 years, body surface area burned was 58% ± 24%, and 30% sustained smoke inhalation. Actual mortality was 41%, significantly less than the more than 70% mortality rate predicted from reported outcome data. Patients receiving HGH were well matched with the group not receiving HGH with respect to extent of injury, burn management, pharmacotherapy, and in-hospital morbidity. Mortality of the patients receiving HGH was 11%, significantly less than the 37% mortality rate of the patients without HGH (p = 0.027). Conclusion: Compared to standard predictors of burn mortality our small patient group appears to have an improved survival rate, suggesting that the use of anti-inflammatory agents appears safe and potentially beneficial. Patients receiving HGH exhibited minimal drug-related complications and mortality rates were improved when this population was compared with both predicted mortality rates and a well-matched control population of concurrently treated patients. Prospective blinded trials are now necessary to confirm these findings in a larger patient group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)526-532
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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