After any severe injury or major operation the rate of protein catabolism is increased. This catabolic period is usually self-limited but may be prolonged, in which case it may lead to significant protein deficiencies, particularly when the patient's appetite is poor.
The nitrogen deficit attendant upon the catabolic response to injury may be alleviated to some extent by increasing the intake of protein and other foods, but this is often difficult to do. Therefore, the reversal of this catabolic response by any method, thereby permitting the organism to retain nitrogen even with a limited intake, would have important nutritional benefits. Norethandrolone (17-α-ethyl-17-hydroxynorandrostenone; Nilevar) reportedly mitigates the protein catabolic response to injury. It has been studied as a part of a research program concerned with protein repletion at the Homer G. Phillips Hospital.
Fifteen normally nourished patients in good general health scheduled to undergo elective complete abdominal hysterectomy were studied.