Author(s): Murphy JF, Purdue GF, Hunt JL, Murphy JF, Purdue GF, Hunt JL
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Abstract Acute adrenal insufficiency is an uncommon but devastating complication of severe burn injury. The diagnosis is rarely made antemortem. Acute, fatal, adrenal insufficiency developed in three patients among 807 critically ill patients with burns treated at this institution during the past 6 years. Thermal injuries elevate corticosteroid secretion for weeks after injury, severely stressing the adrenal glands. Overload of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is thought to make this system unusually vulnerable to acute infarction. Although the actual mechanism of adrenal hemorrhage is not clear, the combination of excessive adrenocorticotropic hormone stimulation and hemodynamic instability have been implicated in its evolution. Survival may be too short for characteristic Addisonian metabolic changes to develop. Acute adrenal insufficiency is a rare event that is historically associated with meningococcemia, although any life-threatening illness may precipitate this catastrophe. Therefore, when a sudden deterioration in the patient with thermal injuries is encountered, adrenal insufficiency must be considered.
This article was published in J Burn Care Rehabil
and referenced in Journal of Forensic Research