World Journal of Surgery

, Volume 32, Issue 8, pp 1857–1869 | Cite as

Metabolic Implications of Severe Burn Injuries and Their Management: A Systematic Review of the Literature

  • Bishara S. Atiyeh
  • S. William A. Gunn
  • Saad A. Dibo



Severe burn patients are some of the most challenging critically ill patients, with an extreme state of physiologic stress and an overwhelming systemic metabolic response. A major component of severe burn injury is a hypermetabolic state associated with protein losses and a significant reduction of lean body mass. The second prominent component is hyperglycemia. Reversal of the hypermetabolic response by manipulating the patient’s physiologic and biochemical environment through the administration of specific nutrients, growth factors, or other agents, often in pharmacologic doses, is emerging as an essential component of the state of the art in severe burn management. The present review aims at summarizing the new treatment modalities established to reduce the catabolic burden of severe burn injuries, for which there is some evidence-based support.


A systematic review of the literature was conducted. Search tools included Elsevier ScienceDirect,, Medline (OVID), MedlinePlus, and PubMed. Topics searched were Nutrition and Burns, Metabolic Response and Burns, Hypermetabolism and Burns, Hyperglycemia and Burns, and several more specific topics when indicated. With a focus on the most recently published articles, abstracts were reviewed and, when found relevant, were included as references. Full text articles, whenever available, were retrieved.


Many issues remain unanswered. Unfortunately, the present state of our knowledge does not allow the formulation of clear-cut guidelines. Only general trends can be outlined, and these will certainly have some practical applications but above all will dictate future research in the field.


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Copyright information

© Société Internationale de Chirurgie 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bishara S. Atiyeh
    • 1
  • S. William A. Gunn
    • 2
  • Saad A. Dibo
    • 3
  1. 1.Division Plastic and Reconstructive SurgeryAmerican University of Beirut Medical CenterBeirutLebanon
  2. 2.WHO Collaborating Center on Burns and Fire DisastersLa PanetiereSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of SurgeryAmerican University of Beirut Medical CenterBeirutLebanon

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