Established fluid treatment formulas for burn injuries have been challenged as studies have shown the presence of tissue hypoxia during standard resuscitation. Such findings suggest monitoring at the tissue level. This study was performed in patients with major burn injuries to evaluate the microdialysis technique for the continuous assessment of skin metabolic changes during fluid resuscitation and up to four days postburn.
We conducted an experimental study in patients with a burn injury, as represented by percentage of total body surface area burned (TBSA), of more than 25% in a university eight-bed burns intensive care unit serving about 3.5 million inhabitants. Six patients with a median TBSA percentage of 59% (range 33.5% to 90%) and nine healthy controls were examined by intracutaneous MD, in which recordings of glucose, pyruvate, lactate, glycerol, and urea were performed.
Blood glucose concentration peaked on day two at 9.8 mmol/l (6.8 to 14.0) (median and range) and gradually declined on days three and four, whereas skin glucose in MD continued to increase throughout the study period with maximum values on day four, 8.7 mmol/l (4.9 to 11.0). Controls had significantly lower skin glucose values compared with burn patients, 3.1 mmol/l (1.5 to 4.6) (p < 0.001). Lactate from burn patients was significantly higher than controls in both injured and uninjured skin (MD), 4.6 mmol/l (1.3 to 8.9) and 3.8 mmol/l (1.6 to 7.5), respectively (p < 0.01). The skin lactate/pyruvate ratio (MD) was significantly increased in burn patients on all days (p < 0.001). Skin glycerol (MD) was significantly increased at days three and four in burn patients compared with controls (p < 0.01).
Despite a strategy that fulfilled conventional goals for resuscitation, there were increased lactate/pyruvate ratios, indicative of local acidosis. A corresponding finding was not recorded systemically. We conclude that MD is a promising tool for depicting local metabolic processes that are not fully appreciated when examined systemically. Because the local response in glucose, lactate, and pyruvate metabolism seems to differ from that recorded systemically, this technique may offer a new method of monitoring organs.