Update on current therapeutic approaches in burns

Khan Z. Shirani, George M. Vaughan, Arthur D. Mason, Basil A. Pruitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Burn injury results in a rapid loss of intravascular volume as wound edema forms, which reduces the circulating blood volume and generates the need for fluid therapy to combat hypovolemia. Fluid resuscitation of a burn patient is usually carried out with isotonic, sodium- and chloride-containing fluids, such as lactated Ringer's solution. The initial 24 h resuscitation volume is based on the burn size and body weight of the patient. Following a successful resuscitation, the burn patient develops Stereotypic neurohormonal and metabolic responses that, depending on the extent of injury, last for several weeks or months. Breathing of incomplete products of combustion by the fire victim produces inhalation injury, the incidence of which rises with increasing burn size and the severity of which is proportional to the duration of exposure. Systemic hypoxia from carbon monoxide toxicity causes early death; chemical airway injury increases mortality and predisposes to subsequent pneumonia that further reduces survival. The diagnosis of inhalation injury is made by bronchoscopy and/or xenon scan and therapy involves support of ventilation. Thermal destruction of the cutaneous mechanical barrier and the presence of nonviable avascular burn eschar as well as impairment of other host defenses render the burn patient susceptible to local as well as systemic infections. Care following resuscitation is focused on topical antimicrobial therapy, burn wound excision, and wound closure by grafting. Nutritional support and the prevention and control of infection are constant themes in burn patient management. A progressive improvement in general care of the acutely injured patient, prevention of shock, effective means of maintaining organ function, prevention and control of burn wound and other infections, and physiologically based metabolic support have significantly increased burn patient survival in recent decades.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-16
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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