Journal of Emergencies, Trauma, and Shock
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Year : 2008  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 81-87

Alcohol, burn injury, and the intestine

1 Department of Surgery, Burn and Shock Trauma Institute, Loyola University Chicago Medical Center, Maywood, IL 60153, USA
2 Department of Surgery, Center for Surgical Research, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA

Correspondence Address:
Mashkoor A Choudhry
Department of Surgery, Burn and Shock Trauma Institute, Loyola University Chicago Medical Center, Maywood, IL 60153
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-2700.43187

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A significant number of burn and other traumatic injuries are reported to occur under the influence of alcohol (EtOH) intoxication. Despite this overwhelming association between EtOH intoxication and injury, relatively little attention has been paid to determining the role of EtOH in post-injury pathogenesis. This article reviews studies which have evaluated the impact of EtOH on post-burn intestinal immunity and barrier functions. The findings from these studies suggest that while a smaller burn injury by itself may not have an adverse effect on host defense, when combined with prior EtOH intoxication it may become detrimental. Experimental data from our laboratory further supports the notion that EtOH intoxication before burn injury suppresses intestinal immune defense, impairs gut barrier functions, and increases bacterial growth. This results in increased bacterial translocation which may contribute to post injury pathogenesis. Altogether, the studies reviewed in this article suggest that EtOH intoxication at the time of injury is a risk factor, and therefore blood EtOH should be checked in burn/trauma patients at the time of hospital admission.

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