Refractory collapse and severe burn: Think about acute adrenal insufficiency

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Introduction:Adrenal insufficiency (AI) is a rare endocrine disorder, which can in its acute form be life-threatening in case of late diagnosis or treatment. The stress during a thermal burn can easily decompensate the AI. We report the case of an acute adrenal insufficiency (AAI) discovered following a refractory collapse occurred after a severe thermal burn.Case presentation:A 60-year-old woman was accidentally burned to the lower limbs by hot water. Total burn surface area was 36 %. The patient had local care and dressings, vascular filling, and analgesics. Four hours later, she became dyspneic, and presented tachycardia associated with collapse at 60/40 mmHg. Suspecting a hypovolemic origin, we performed a solid fluid replacement with colloids. However, hemodynamic stability was not achieved and motivated a continuous injection of norepinephrine. Despite high doses, immediate evolution was marked by a persistent precarious hemodynamic state. AAI was suspected, and a substitutive hormonotherapy was started. The clinical condition progressively improved and catecholamines were quickly stopped.Conclusion:AAI is a vital emergency. The large burn is a possible cause of the AI decompensation. This diagnosis must be kept in mind when the hemodynamic status remains unstable despite an adequate vascular treatment.

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