II. Epidemiology

  1. U.S. Incidence of Burn Injury
    1. Emergency Department visits: 500,000 per year
    2. Hospitalizations: 40,000 per year (60% require burn center admission)
  2. Ages at higher risk of Burn Injury (bimodal distribution)
    1. Children
    2. Older adults

III. Causes

  1. Scald Burn (80% of burns in young children)
    1. Hot liquids pulled off the counter
  2. Flame-related burns (more common in school age children and teens)
    1. Lighters
    2. Lighter fluid
    3. Fireworks
    4. Gasoline

IV. Pathophysiology

  1. Deep dermal injury
    1. Disrupts elasticity, mechanical barrier protection and vascular supply
    2. Results in scarring and Non-Healing Wounds

V. Precautions

  1. Consider physical abuse
    1. Intimate Partner Violence
    2. Elder Abuse
    3. Nonaccidental Trauma in children with Burn Injury
      1. Physical abuse accounts for 5-6% of Burn Injury <12 years old
      2. Social workers typically review pediatric burns at burn centers and pediatric hospitals
      3. Involve child protective services and pediatric specialty center evaluation if suspected abuse
      4. Consider in delayed presentation, parental indifference and inconsistent history
      5. Consider in burns to hands or feet, buttocks or posterior legs
      6. Consider in well demarcated burns or linear or patterned burns
      7. Consider in symmetric burns and in those that do not spare the flexor crease
  2. Evaluate for other Traumatic Injury
    1. See Secondary Survey
    2. Closed Head Injury
    3. Eye Trauma
    4. Chest Trauma
    5. Abdominal Trauma
    6. Musculoskeletal Trauma

VI. Types

  1. Electrical Injury
  2. Lightning Injury
  3. Chemical Toxin
  4. Fire-Related Injury
    1. Thermal Burn
      1. Contact with hot surface and scald burns from liquid (>111 F, 43 C) account for 85% of pediatric burns
    2. Smoke Inhalation
      1. Occurs in 5-35% of hospitalized Burn Injury patients
    3. Acute airway compromise (airway edema)
    4. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
    5. Cyanide Poisoning

VII. Signs: Burn Degree

  1. Precaution
    1. Conversion to deeper burn may occur over ensuing days after initial injury
  2. First degree (Superficial burn)
    1. Not included in burn total body surface area involvement
    2. Pathophysiology
      1. Damage limited to Epidermis
    3. Findings
      1. Dry Skin erythema that when touched, is painful and blanches (e.g. Sunburn)
      2. No Blisters
    4. Causes
      1. Severe UV light exposure (Sunburn)
      2. Minor Thermal Injury
    5. Course
      1. Healing occurs in 3-6 days (up to 5-10 days) without scarring
  3. Second degree (Partial thickness burn)
    1. Superficial partial thickness
      1. Pathophysiology
        1. Involves all of the Epidermis
        2. Also involves superficial Dermis (upper layers of papillary Dermis)
        3. Skin capillaries remain intact (distinguishes from deep partial thickness injury)
      2. Findings
        1. Wet, weaping lesions with clear Blisters
        2. Erythematous, soft skin that blanches with pressure
        3. When touched, skin is hypersensitive and painful
      3. Course
        1. Healing occurs within 14-21 days
        2. Scarring is possible but uncommon (deeper structures including stem cells are spared)
    2. Deep partial thickness
      1. Pathophysiology
        1. Involves all of the Epidermis
        2. Also involves deeper Dermis (lower layers of reticular Dermis)
      2. Findings
        1. Drier lesions than with superficial partial thickness
        2. White or pale to Yellow Skin that when touched does not blanch (or has decreased blanching)
        3. Hemorrhagic Blisters may be present
        4. Painful despite reduced Sensation to touch
        5. Skin is slightly tense (less soft than in superficial partial thickness burns)
      3. Course
        1. Healing typically takes >21 days
        2. Scarring and contractures are common complications (involves stem cells, follicles, glands)
        3. Benefits from early evaluation by burn surgeon early operative management
  4. Third degree (Full thickness)
    1. Pathophysiology
      1. Kills all skin layers (involves all of Dermis)
      2. Also involves underlying subcutaneous fat and connective tissue
    2. Findings
      1. Waxy, dark-brown to black, tan or white skin
      2. Skin is stiff and leatherlike (contrast with soft skin of superficial burns)
      3. Bright red burns without blanching or Sensation are Third Degree Burns (contrast with pink Second Degree Burns)
      4. No Sensation to touch
      5. No Capillary Refill
    3. Course
      1. Burn center evaluation indicated in all cases
      2. Typically do not heal without skin grafting
      3. Contractures are a common complication
  5. Fourth degree
    1. Destroys all skin layers
    2. Also involves Muscle, tendon or bone

VIII. Signs: Estimating Surface Area with Rule of 9's

  1. Precautions
    1. Estimate burn area only based on second and Third Degree Burns
      1. First Degree Burns do not count for calculation (Sunburn-like red, closed injury areas)
    2. Exercise caution in burn area calculation in children (overestimated by >200%)
      1. Can substantially affect fluid Resuscitation volume calculation (Parkland Formula)
      2. Goverman (2015) J Burn Care Res 36(5): 574-9 +PMID:25407387 [PubMed]
    3. Lund and Bowder Chart offers a more accurate assessment of burn area
      1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lund_and_Browder_chart
      2. Murari (2019) Acute Crit Care 34(4): 276-81 +PMID:31795625 [PubMed]
  2. Infant Rule of 9s
    1. er_burn_RuleOf9_infant.png
    2. Head: 18%
    3. Torso Back: 18%
    4. Torso Front: 18%
    5. Leg Left: 14%
    6. Leg Right: 14%
    7. Arm Left: 9%
    8. Arm Right: 9%
  3. Adult Rule of 9s
    1. er_burn_ruleOf9_adult.png
    2. Torso Front: 18%
    3. Torso Back: 18%
    4. Leg Left: 18%
    5. Leg Right: 18%
    6. Head: 9%
    7. Arm Left: 9%
    8. Arm Right: 9%
    9. Genitalia: 1%
    10. Size of patients palm
      1. Entire palm and fingers: 1% TBSA (inaccurate in obese patients)
      2. Palm only: 0.5% TBSA
  4. Resources
    1. EasyTBSA
      1. Iphone/Android App - Calculate Body surface area in Burn Injury
      2. https://apps.apple.com/us/app/easytbsa/id1554943740
      3. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.cnmc.EasyTBSA&hl=en_US&gl=US

IX. Evaluation: Minor burn criteria

  1. Burn is not circumferential
  2. Burn is only injury
  3. Burn does not involve high risk areas
    1. Across major joints
    2. Face
    3. Hands or feet
    4. Perineum or genitalia
  4. Partial thickness burn surface area is limited (Second Degree Burn area)
    1. Ages 10 to 50 years old: Burn area <10%
    2. Age under 10 or over age 50 years old: Burn area <5% (<2% third degree, full thickness)

X. Management

XI. Prevention: General

  1. See Sunscreen
  2. Avoid Smoking inside the home

XII. Prevention: Burns in Children

  1. Consider Nonaccidental Trauma, Intimate Partner Violence or Elder Abuse (see precautions as above)
  2. Bath
    1. Test bathwater before placing child in bath
    2. Set hot water heater to lowest setting (below 120 degrees F)
    3. Monitor children continuously when in the bath or near faucets
  3. Kitchen
    1. Preferentially use the back Burners of the stove when cooking in the presence of children
  4. Household
    1. Test smoke alarms on a regular basis
    2. Monitor children when near fireplace
    3. Keep children away from matches, fireworks, gasoline and explosives
    4. Keep children away from hot objects
      1. Never hold children while working with hot objects

XIII. Prognosis: Increased mortality risk factors

  1. Age >60 years
  2. Associated Smoke Inhalation

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