Resuscitation after severe burn injury using high-dose ascorbic acid: a retrospective review

J Burn Care Res. Jan-Feb 2011;32(1):110-7. doi: 10.1097/BCR.0b013e318204b336.


Resuscitation of burn victims with high-dose ascorbic acid (vitamin C [VC]) was reported in Japan in the year 2000. Benefits of VC include reduction in fluid requirements, resulting in less tissue edema and body weight gain. In turn, these patients suffer less respiratory impairment and reduced requirement for mechanical ventilation. Despite these results, few burn centers resuscitate patients with VC in fear that it may increase the risk of renal failure. A retrospective review of 40 patients with greater than 20% TBSA between 2007 and 2009 was performed. Patients were divided into two groups: one received only lactated Ringer's (LR) solution and another received LR solution plus 66 mg/kg/hr VC. Both groups were resuscitated with the Parkland formula to maintain stable hemodynamics and adequate urine output (>0.5 ml/kg/hr). Patients with >10-hour delay in transfer to the burn center were excluded. Data collected included age, gender, weight, %TBSA, fluid administered in the first 24 hours, urine output in the first 24 hours, and Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II score. PaO2 in millimeters mercury:%FIO2 ratio and positive end-expiratory pressure were measured at 12-hour intervals, and hematocrit was measured at 6-hour intervals. Comorbidities, mortality, pneumonia, fasciotomies, and renal failure were also noted. After 7 patients were excluded, 17 patients were included in the VC group and 16 in the LR group. VC and LR were matched for age (42 ± 16 years vs 50 ± 20 years, P = .2), burn size (45 ± 21%TBSA vs 39 ± 15%TBSA, P = .45), Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation II (17 ± 7 vs 18 ± 8, P = .8), and gender. Fluid requirements in the first 24 hours were 5.3 ± 1 ml/kg/%TBSA for VC and 7.1 ± 1 ml/kg/%TBSA for LR (P < .05). Urine output was 1.5 ± 0.4 ml/kg/hr for VC and 1 ± 0.5 ml/kg/hr for LR (P < .05). Vasopressors were needed in four VC patients and nine LR patients (P = .07). VC patients required vasopressors to maintain mean arterial pressure for a mean of 6 hours, but LR needed vasopressors for 11 hours (P = .2). No significant differences in PaO2 in millimeters mercury:%FIO2 ratio, positive end-expiratory pressure, frequency of pneumonia, renal failure, or inhalation injury were found. VC group had four mortalities, and LR group had three mortalities (P = 1). VC is associated with a decrease in fluid requirements and an increase in urine output during resuscitation after thermal injury. Although this study did not find a difference in outcomes with VC administration, it demonstrates that VC can be safely used without an increased risk of renal failure. The effects of VC should be further studied in a large-scale, prospective, randomized trial.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Ascorbic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Burns / therapy*
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Isotonic Solutions / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Positive-Pressure Respiration
  • Resuscitation / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Ringer's Lactate
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urination


  • Antioxidants
  • Isotonic Solutions
  • Ringer's Lactate
  • Ascorbic Acid