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Arch Surg. 1992 Jan;127(1):26-9; discussion 29-30.

Alterations in intestinal permeability after thermal injury.

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US Army Institute of Surgical Research, Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234-5012.


Alterations in intestinal permeability have been postulated to occur after thermal injury. We evaluated the status of intestinal permeability during the first 2 postburn weeks in 15 subjects by measuring the differential excretion of enterally administered lactulose and mannitol. The mean age and burn size of the patients were 32.7 +/- 3.6 years and 53.3% +/- 5.1% of the total body surface area, respectively. Ten healthy volunteers were also studied. The lactulose-mannitol excretion ratio was 0.159 +/- 0.017 for the patients and 0.017 +/- 0.003 for controls. The increased ratio did not correlate with burn size or postburn day. Patients who developed significant clinical infections during their first 2 postburn weeks had lactulose-mannitol ratios on postburn day 2 that were significantly higher than those of controls and patients who did not develop infections. This suggests a relationship between susceptibility to infection and early alterations in intestinal permeability.

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