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August 1972

Adrenal Cortical Function in Severe Burns

Author Affiliations

St. Louis
From the Department of Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis.

Arch Surg. 1972;105(2):213-220. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1972.04180080067012

Severely burned patients have prolonged high levels of free plasma cortisol and a decrease in plasma corticosteroid binding globulin. The four consistent changes in the urinary corticosteroid excretion pattern were as follows: (1) prolonged increase in cortisol excretion, which may reflect the sustained high free plasma levels; (2) temporary increase of the 17-ketosteroids, followed by return to normal levels; (3) similar rise and fall in the Porter-Silber chromogen levels; and (4) prolonged increased excretion of 17-ketogenic steroids. The sustained increase of 17-ketogenic steroids, as opposed to the rapid decrease of Porter-Silber chromogens, suggests that corticosteroids other than cortisol are secreted in larger than normal quantities, in response to the prolonged stress of severe burns. The increased amounts of alpha-ketolytic corticosteroids in the plasma of these patients would support this hypothesis.

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