Accurate burn depth estimation remains one of the foundations of optimal burn care. The method by which burn depth is determined has traditionally been clinical examination alone. This continues to hold true in the United States, despite a plethora of literature supporting the use of more accurate modalities such as laser Doppler imaging (LDI). LDI has widespread use in burn centers in the United Kingdom and around the world. Thus, the reason for a lack of use in U.S. burn centers remains elusive. A survey of U.S. burn center directors was conducted to assess their current practices and attitudes with regard to burn depth estimation at U.S. burn centers in an effort to answer this question. Surveys were returned from 68 burn center directors (49% response rate). All respondents reported using clinical examination in their current practice for the daily evaluation of acute burns, with a biopsy being the next most commonly used modality. The most preferred modality was also clinical examination (60%), followed by LDI (6%) and biopsy (4%). The top three modalities ranked as "most promising" for daily use were clinical examination, LDI, and noncontact/high-frequency ultrasound. Directors identified the top three limitations to the use of new technology as cost (72%), availability (63%), and lack of support by evidence to date (35%). Future studies may need to focus on overcoming these perceived limitations before the widespread use of LDI or other new modalities will be realized at burn centers in the United States.
(C) 2014 The American Burn Association