Respiratory failure is associated with a high mortality rate in burned children. Recently, a specialized pulmonary enteral formula (SPEF) was commercially introduced as an adjunct intervention in acute lung injury management. SPEF contains condition-specific nutrients to modulate the inflammatory response.

The study examined SPEF impact in critically ill, pediatric burn patients with respiratory failure. Medical records of acute burn patients admitted December 1997 to October 2006 were reviewed for SPEF treatment. Respiratory and renal indices were compared on the first and final days of SPEF use.

Nineteen patients with respiratory failure received SPEF for a mean of 10.8 +/- 0.9 days during their acute burn course. Mean age was 5.3 +/- 1.5 years. Mean total body surface area burn was 44.3 +/- 5.4% with 32.5 +/- 6.4% full thickness. Patients were admitted 2.3 +/- 0.9 days postburn. Significant improvements in peak pressure, PEEP, FiO2, P:F ratio, Pco2, Po2, and ETco2 were noted. Seventeen of the 19 patients survived despite the fact that 9 of the 19 patients developed severe barotrauma requiring multiple tube thoracotomies, and all 19 had extremely poor prognoses at SPEF initiation.

Adult SPEF formula for critically ill, pediatric burn patients with respiratory failure is safe and well tolerated. SPEF seems to facilitate recovery from acute lung injury as evidenced by improvements in oxygenation and pulmonary compliance.