Despite the fact that early excision and grafting has significantly improved outcome over the last decades, the management of severely burned adult patients with ≥60% total body surface area (% TBSA) burned still represents a challenging task for burn care specialists all over the world. In this article, we present our current treatment concept for this entity of severely burned patients and analyze its effect in a comparative cohort study. Surgical strategy comprised the use of split-thickness skin grafts (Meek, mesh) for permanent coverage, fluidized microsphere bead-beds for wound conditioning, temporary coverage (polyurethane sheets, Epigard®; nanocrystalline silver dressings, Acticoat®; synthetic copolymer sheets based on lactic acid, Suprathel®; acellular bovine derived collagen matrices, Matriderm®; allogeneic cultured keratinocyte sheets; and allogeneic split-thickness skin grafts), and negative-pressure wound therapy (vacuum-assisted closure). The autologous split-thickness skin graft expansion using the Meek technique for full-thickness burns and the delayed approach for treating dorsal burn wounds is discussed in detail. To demonstrate differences before and after the introduction of the Meek technique, we have compared patients of 2007 with ≥60% TBSA (n = 10) to those in a matched observation period (n = 7). In the first part of the comparative analysis, all patients of the two samples were analyzed with regard to age, abbreviated burn severity index, Baux, different entities of % TBSA, and survival. In the second step, only the survivors of both years were separated in two groups as follows: patients receiving skin grafts, using the Meek technique (n = 6), were compared with those without Meek grafting (n = 4). When comparing the severely burned patients of 2007 with a cohort of 2006, there were no differences for age (2007: 46.4 ± 13.4 vs. 2006: 39.1 ± 14.8 years), abbreviated burn severity index score (2007: 12.2 ± 1.0 vs. 2006: 12.1 ± 1.2) or % TBSA (2007: 72.1 ± 11.7 vs. 2006: 69.3 ± 8.7% TBSA). In these two rather small groups of severely burned patients with ≥60% TBSA, the overall survival rate of patients was 70.0% (7/10) in 2007 and 42.9% (3/7) in 2006, respectively. Almost all nonsurvivors in both years died within the first 5 days after admission. If assessing the different treatment modalities of the survivors, we found that although the Meek group patients were older (Meek 48.8 ± 13.3 vs. non-Meek 26.8 ± 11.5 years, P = .0381) and had consequently higher Baux scores (Meek 124.0 ± 2.9 vs. non-Meek 93.8 ± 8.5, P = .0095) than the non-Meek patients, this seemed to have no effect on length-of-stay (80.5 ± 9.7 vs. non-Meek 79.8 ± 33.0 days), hospital length-of-stay (85.7 ± 14.8 vs. non-meek 84.3 ± 26.1 days) or number of operations (6.5 ± 1.0 vs. non-Meek 7.0 ± 4.1 operations). The achieved results represent a combination of various treatment changes and, therefore, cannot be attributed to a single modality. The Meek technique is one of the technical options to choose from, to achieve permanent skin replacement; we think that it has its place if integrated in a whole treatment concept for management of severely burned patients.
From the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department for Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.
Address correspondence to Lars-Peter Kamolz, MD, PhD, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department for Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, Waehringer Gürtel 18-20, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.