This study describes the pattern of oxygen consumption (VO2), rectal temperature (Tr), and acral skin temperature (Tac) in sleeping and resting (awake) burned children nursed in a thermoneutral environment. Measurements of respiratory gas exchange (VO2 and carbon dioxide production (VCO2)) were made using an open circuit, flow through system of indirect calorimetry. Tr and Tac were monitored continuously. Sixteen patients were studied during the first 18 hours after being burned. Three phases of change in VO2, Tr, and Tac are described. The first was a stable period and there was little change from admission values. The second (7-10 hours after burn) was a phase of rapid heat storage. It started with a fall in Tac. Peak values of Tr (38.8-41.1, median 40.0 degrees C) and VO2 (8.5-11.8 ml/min/kg) occurred either in phase 2 or in the later phase 3. At its peak VO2 was 12-61% above values in phase 1. In phase 3, Tac returned towards admission values but Tr and VO2 were variable. These changes suggest that both an increase in metabolic heat production as well as heat conservation at the extremities may be involved in the generation of early fever after a burn.
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