Changes in liver function and size after a severe thermal injury

Marc G. Jeschke, Ronald P. Micak, Celeste C. Finnerty, David N. Herndon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Hepatic homeostasis and metabolism are essential for survival in critically ill and severely burned patients. There is evidence that the liver undergoes hypertrophy after burn. However, the extension and the duration of liver enlargement are not known. The aim of the present study was to determine the changes in liver size, weight, and hepatic protein synthesis in a large prospective clinical trial throughout acute hospitalization and up to 12 months after burn. Liver size was measured by means of ultrasound, and liver weight was calculated weekly during short-term hospital stay and at 6, 9, and 12 months after burn. The liver size was then compared with the predicted liver size for each individual. The levels of hepatic proteins and enzymes were determined by using standard laboratory techniques. One hundred two children were included in the study, with 58% ± 2% total body surface area and 45% ± 2% third-degree burn. Liver size and weight significantly increased during the first week after burn (mean ± SEM, 85% ± 5%), peeked at 2 weeks after burn (mean ± SEM, 126% ± 19%), and, at discharge, increased by 89% ± 10%. At 6, 9, and 12 months, the liver weight increased by 40% to 50% compared with the predicted liver weight. The hepatic protein synthesis was affected up to 9 months after burn. The liver demonstrates a significant enlargement during short-term hospitalization, accompanied with impairment in the hepatic protein synthesis. The treatment to prevent liver enlargement and the improved impaired function may result in a reduction of complications accompanied with liver hypertrophy and failure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)172-177
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2007


  • Hepatomegaly
  • Liver enzymes
  • Pediatrics
  • Thermal injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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