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Percentage of Surface Area Burned Can Predict Death Risk

Smoke inhalation also a factor in burn unit prediction model

MONDAY, July 31 (HealthDay News) -- The total surface area of a patient's body that is burned, as well as smoke inhalation, can be used to help predict mortality risk for patients in burn units, researchers report in the July issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Sagit Meshulam-Derazon, M.D., of Tel Aviv University in Israel, and colleagues analyzed the medical records of 249 burn patients treated between 1995 and 2002 for second- and third-degree burns.

The researchers found that some 236 survivors were burned on a mean of 14 percent of their total body surface. The patients were hospitalized a mean 22.9 days and spent a mean 127.5 minutes in the operating room. Length of hospital stay varied according to total body surface area burned. The only important mortality predictors were the percentage of body surface burned and the amount of inhaled smoke.

The authors conclude that every 1 percent increase in total body surface burned correlated with a 6 percent increase in mortality risk. Smoke inhalation multiplied the risk of death nine times.

"Using objective measurements in burn treatment is of great importance," the authors write. "The formulas presented by the authors explain a considerable percentage of the probability of morbidity in burn victims."

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