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Surgery. 1976 Oct;80(4):465-73.

Cerium nitrate: a new topical antiseptic for extensive burns.


The wounds of 60 burned patients were treated topically with cerium nitrate, which was applied either as a cream or in aqueous solution. Cerium nitrate has a potent antiseptic effect in human burn wounds, especially against gram negative bacteria and fungi. Pseudomonas aeruginosa was recovered from the wounds infrequently and never predominated. Fungi were practically never found. No patient treated with cerium developed a necrotizing wound infection. Analysis of the detailed bacteriological data indicated that, in contrast to previous results with use of the nitrate or sulfadiazine salts of silver, when gram negative species predominated, the flora tended to be predominantly gram positive when cerium was used. Therefore, some patients were treated simultaneously with cerium nitrate and silver sulfadiazine; this resulted in an even more efficient suppression of the wound flora than was observed previously with either cerium alone or silver salts alone; results with the simultaneous topical therapy in patients with injuries that previously were uniformly lethal were excellent. No toxicity attributable to the use of cerium was observed, although one instance of methemoglobinemia due to nitrate was documented. The adsorption of topically applied cerium essentially is nil. The use of cerium nitrate was associated with a nearly 50 percent reduction in the anticipated death rate. Cerium nitrate is a promising new topical antiseptic agent for the treatment of burns, particularly when it is used in combination with silver sulfadiazine.

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