For your convenience, we have gathered information related to the medical treatment of burn-related injuries. Please scroll down to the bottom of the page if you would like to read a brief overview of the medical treatment typically provided.
Medical care during the first 48 hours after a burn injury occurs is the most critical. The challenge for healthcare professionals lies in getting burn patients through the initial stages of recovery, focusing on the prevention of fluid loss and preventing and controlling infection. Infection is the most serious ongoing threat to burn victims. Fluid loss can also be difficult to control as patients lose fluids from damaged blood vessels, resulting in sodium chloride and protein flowing into the injured area. This causes swelling, blisters, low urine output and hypotension (low blood pressure). Rapid fluid loss that is not counteracted by replacement fluids may lead to shock, a serious condition that can be fatal. The healthcare team combats these effects by administering intravenous fluids, electrolytes, antibiotics and pain medications. A tetanus vaccination may be given and a catheter may be inserted into the bladder to monitor urine output. Vital signs are monitored frequently.
Burn patients will continue to lose fluids until their burns have been covered. Sometimes all that is needed is ointment and a dressing; however, severe burns may require skin grafting. Skin grafting presents risks and the severely burned patient may be unable to withstand surgery. In addition, the severely burned patient may not have enough healthy skin to perform grafting.
When a burn victim does not have enough healthy skin to donate, cadaver skin may be used as a temporary cover. As is the case with all organs (and skin is the largest organ), cadaver skin may be in short supply. Cadaver skin must be tested to ensure it is free of infectious diseases, such as hepatitis and HIV. Pigskin may be used as an alternative to cadaver skin.
Over the past several years, research has brought relief to burn patients in many different forms. Perhaps the most beneficial is artificial skin. Artificial skin is a relative newcomer to the burn treatment arsenal, but results thus far have been good. Integra Artificial Skin Regeneration Templates and/or Original Biobrain can be used to cover wounds. The advancement of these products has been life saving for many burn victims.
Cultured skin is the miraculous result of years of research, affording technicians the ability to grow a patient’s own skin in a laboratory setting under special tissue culture conditions. A postage stamp-sized piece of the patient’s skin can be used by technicians to grow enough skin to cover almost the entire body in just three weeks.
Researchers are working continuously to find new solutions to improve outcomes and scarring for individuals who have suffered a severe burn injury.
If you have additional questions, please contact us.