Reversal of Growth Arrest With the Combined Administration of Oxandrolone and Propranolol in Severely Burned Children

Ann Surg. 2016 Sep;264(3):421-8. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000001844.


Background: The hypercatabolic response in severely burned pediatric patients is associated with increased production of catecholamines and corticosteroids, decreased formation of testosterone, and reduced strength alongside growth arrest for up to 2 years after injury. We have previously shown that, in the pediatric burned population, the administration of the testosterone analog oxandrolone improves lean body mass accretion and bone mineral content and that the administration of the β1-, β2-adrenoceptor antagonist propranolol decreases cardiac work and resting energy expenditure while increasing peripheral lean mass. Here, we determined whether the combined administration of oxandrolone and propranolol has added benefit.

Methods: In this prospective, randomized study of 612 burned children [52% ± 1% of total body surface area burned, ages 0.5-14 years (boys); ages 0.5-12 years (girls)], we compared controls to the individual administration of these drugs, and the combined administration of oxandrolone and propranolol at the same doses, for 1 year after burn. Data were recorded at discharge, 6 months, and 1 and 2 years after injury.

Results: Combined use of oxandrolone and propranolol shortened the period of growth arrest by 84 days (P = 0.0125 vs control) and increased growth rate by 1.7 cm/yr (P = 0.0024 vs control).

Conclusions: Combined administration of oxandrolone and propranolol attenuates burn-induced growth arrest in pediatric burn patients. The present study is registered at NCT00675714 and NCT00239668.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Burns / complications*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Growth / drug effects
  • Growth Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Growth Disorders / etiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Oxandrolone / administration & dosage*
  • Propranolol / administration & dosage*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Testosterone / analogs & derivatives


  • Testosterone
  • Oxandrolone
  • Propranolol

Associated data