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Oral and Enteral Resuscitation of Burn Shock The Historical Record and Implications for Mass Casualty Care

By George C. Kramer, Michael W. Michell, Hermes Oliveira, Tim La, H. Brown, David Herndon, R. David Baker and Michael Muller


In the aftermath of a mass disaster, standard care methods for treatment of burn injury will often not be available for all victims. A method of fluid resuscitation for burns that has largely been forgotten by contemporary burn experts is enteral resuscitation. We identified 12 studies with over 700 patients treated with enteral resuscitation, defined as drinking or gastric infusion of salt solutions, from the literature. These studies suggest that enteral resuscitation can be an effective treatment for burn shock under conditions in which the standard IV therapy is unavailable or delayed, such as in mass disasters and combat casualties. Enteral resuscitation of burn shock was effective in patients with moderate (10–40 % TBSA) and in some patients with more severe injuries. The data suggests that some hypovolemic burn and trauma patients can be treated exclusively with enteral resuscitation, and others might benefit from enteral resuscitation as an initial alternative and a supplement to IV therapy. A complication of enteral resuscitation was vomiting, which occurred less in children and much less when therapy was initiated within the first postburn hour. Enteral resuscitation is contra-indicated when the patient is in “peripheral circulatory collapse”. The optimal enteral solution and regimen has not yet been defined, nor has its efficacy been tested against modern IV resuscitation. The oldest studies used glucose-free solutions of buffered isotonic and hypotonic saline. Studies that are more recent show benefit of adding glucose to electrolyte solutions similar to those used in the treatment of cholera. If IV therapy for mass casualty care is delayed due to logistical constraints, enteral resuscitation should be considered

Year: 2010
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