Can the use of growth hormone reduce the postoperative fatigue syndrome?

R Vara-Thorbeck, J A Guerrero, E Ruiz-Requena, M García-Carriazo
World Journal of Surgery 1996, 20 (1): 81-6; discussion 86-7
Convalescence after surgery is characterized by a period of fatigue (POF). If we assume that the POF syndrome has a multifactorial etiology, it is clear that the aim of therapeutic measures should be to reduce the response to surgical stress. The purpose of the present study was to determine if administering exogenous human growth hormone (hGH) can prevent the development or reduce the duration of the POF. We carried out a placebo-controlled randomized double-blind trial with 48 patients after elective cholecystectomy (placebo, or control group, n = 26; hGH-treated group, n = 22). Eligibility criteria were strict so as to introduce as few variables as possible. The results obtained in the study show that for moderate surgical injury (cholecystectomy in metabolically healthy subjects) the administering of low doses of hGH (8 IU/day) minimized the POF syndrome (Christensen score). Furthermore, a positive nitrogen balance was achieved in the hGH-treated group during the postoperative period from the first 24 hours onward. This finding correlates with the significant increase in serum levels of hGH (p < 0.05) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) (p < 0.001). On the other hand, anthropometric measurements in the hGH-treated group revealed a slight but continuous decrease in body weight and thickness of the triceps skinfold; however, arm muscle circumference did not significantly change during the postoperative period. These findings are related to the effects of the application of exogenous growth hormone, which preserves or increases lean body mass and reduces adipose tissue mass. The serum transferrin level proved to be a reliable biochemical indicator of POF.


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