ABSTRACT: Patients suffering severe burns have an accelerated catabolism with a highly negative nitrogen balance that may worsen their prognosis. Somatropin treatment has been shown to improve this balance in different hypercatabolic situations. Moreover, in children with extensive burns it also reduces the healing time of the skin graft donor site and shortens the hospital stay. In the existing literature there are no controlled prospective clinical trials in adult patients that confirm these data. Our aim was to demonstrate the efficacy of recombinant growth hormone (somatropin) in reducing the healing time of the skin graft donor sites and the length of stay in the burn unit in adult patients with severe burns. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was carried out in 24 adult patients with severe burns (more than 40% of the total body surface burned or more than 15% full-thickness burns). Patients received placebo (n = 11) or somatropin (n = 13) at a dosage of 0.15 mg/kg/day divided into two equal doses (every 12 hours) via intramuscular injection. Treatment was initiated the day the first autograft was performed and terminated the day the patient was discharged from the burn unit. The mean number (+/- SD) of skin grafts per patient was similar between the two groups (4.2 +/- 1.8 vs 3.4 +/- 1.8 in the placebo and somatropin groups, respectively). No reduction in the healing time of the skin graft donor site was observed in the somatropin group compared to the placebo group. Likewise, the time admitted to the burn unit was not significantly different, either in the absolute number of days (36.2 +/- 19.7 vs 30.1 +/- 16.8 days in the placebo and somatropin groups, respectively) or in relation to the percentage of the total body surface burned or the body surface with full-thickness burns. Growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) levels were three and five times higher, respectively, in the somatropin group than in the placebo group. Ten of the patients treated with somatropin experienced hyperglycemia, and seven of them required insulin treatment. No other adverse side effect was observed. One patient in the placebo group died as a result of sepsis and multiple organ failure. Somatropin, with the treatment regimen and dosage used in these studies, did not reduce the healing time of the skin graft donor sites or the length of hospitalization in the burn unit in adult patients with severe burns.
World Journal of Surgery 02/2002; 26(1):2-8. · 2.36 Impact Factor