• Alterations in intestinal permeability have been postulated to occur after thermal injury. We evaluated the status of intestinal permeability during the first 2 postburn weeks in 15 subjects by measuring the differential excretion of enterally administered lactulose and mannitol. The mean age and burn size of the patients were 32.7±3.6 years and 53.3%±5.1% of the total body surface area, respectively. Ten healthy volunteers were also studied. The lactulose-mannitol excretion ratio was 0.159±0.017 for the patients and 0.017±0.003 for controls. The increased ratio did not correlate with burn size or postburn day. Patients who developed significant clinical infections during their first 2 postburn weeks had lactulose-mannitol ratios on postburn day 2 that were significantly higher than those of controls and patients who did not develop infections. This suggests a relationship between susceptibility to infection and early alterations in intestinal permeability.
(Arch Surg. 1992;127:26-30)