PMID: 3399069Aug 1, 1988Paper

Central pontine myelinolysis in severely burned patients: relationship to serum hyperosmolality

A C McKeeB Q Banker


The rapid correction or over-correction of hyponatremia is believed by many to be the crucial factor in the causation of central pontine myelinolysis (CPM). Over a 17-year period we found CPM in 10 (7%) of the 139 burn patients examined postmortem but in only 10 (0.28%) of the 3,528 patients in the general autopsy population (p less than 0.001). Each of the burn patients with CPM had suffered a prolonged, nonterminal episode of extreme serum hyperosmolality, whereas most burn patients without CPM had not suffered such an episode. The histologic age of the lesions correlated with the duration of time between the hyperosmolar episode and death. Hypernatremia, hyperglycemia, and azotemia, alone or combined, accounted for the hyperosmolality. No single electrolyte or metabolic derangement was essential, as in at least one burn patient with CPM the serum sodium, glucose, or blood urea nitrogen was normal during the hyperosmolar episode. Hyponatremia was not present in any burn patient with CPM. We conclude that severely burned patients, like alcoholics, are especially susceptible to CPM, and that in burn patients with CPM there is a striking association with serum hyperosmolality. The data also suggest that the rapid correction of h...Continue Reading


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