Numerous studies have documented the role of trauma in adversely modifying host defense mechanisms. A major objective of current investigations is to delineate the mechanisms of trauma-mediated depression of host defense and to define the relationship of such depression to susceptibility to fatal septicemia following trauma. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of current knowledge of trauma-mediated alterations of host defense mechanisms. Although not discussed in this review, a variety of treatment modalities utilized in the care of traumatized patients have also been shown to depress host defense mechanisms. Such modalities include antibiotics, steroids, and anesthetic agents.
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