A critical evaluation of povidone-iodine absorption in thermally injured patients

J. L. Hunt, R. Sato, E. L. Heck, C. R. Baxter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Povidone-iodine ointment is a widely used topical antimicrobial agent in thermally injured patients. In 17 patients with burns ranging from 4 to 85% TBSA this agent was applied to both partial-and full-thickness burns. Peak serum iodine levels in patients treated within 24 hours of injury ranged from 595 to 4,900 jug per dL. The amount of iodine absorbed was directly related to the size of the burn. Serum iodine levels continued to rise until the drug was discontinued and remained elevated for as long as 7 days after discontinuance Iodine excretion was directly related to renal function. The highest serum and lowest urinary iodine levels were present in patients who developed renal failure. Thyroid function was not affected by drug usage. A proven cause-and-effect relationship between the elevated serum iodine attributed to the absorption of povidone-iodine and metabolic acidosis, hypernatremia, and hyperosmolarity was not established. Close monitoring of the patient’s fluid and electrolyte balance is imperative during drug usage. The drug is contraindicated in any patient with impaired renal function. The high serum levels of this inorganic ion imply potential toxicity, but clinical evidence of cell or organ toxicity is as yet undetermined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-129
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1980

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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