The goal of burn surgical therapy is to minimize mortality and to return survivors to their preinjury state. Prompt removal of the burn eschar, early durable coverage, and late corrections of functional deformities are the basic surgical principles. The operative burden, while presumed to be substantial and significant, is neither well described nor quantified. The burn registry at the U.S. Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center was queried from March 2003 to August 2011 for all active duty burn admissions; active duty subjects were chosen to eliminate subject follow-up as a significant variable. Subject demographics including age, sex, branch of service, injury type, injury severity score, transfusion, allograft use, length of stay, mechanism of injury, and survival were tabulated as were their percentage TBSA, specific body region involvement, and nature and dates of operations performed. Univariate analysis and multiple logistic regressions were performed to determine independent factors which predict early and late operative burden. In the 8-year study period, 864 active duty patients were admitted to the burn center. Among them, 569 (66%) were operative in nature. The operations that were performed during acute hospitalization were 62%, while the remaining 38% were performed following discharge. A linear relationship exists between TBSA and the number of acute operations with an average of one acute operation required per 5% TBSA. No direct relationships however were found between TBSA and the number of reconstructive operations. Based on multiple logistic regression, battle vs nonbattle (odds ratio [OR], 0.559; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.298–1.050; P = .0706), injury severity score (OR, 1.021; 95% CI, 1.003–1.039; P = .0222), intensive care unit length of stay (OR, 1.076; 95% CI, 1.053–1.099; P ≤ .0001), allograft use (OR, 2.610; 95% CI, 1.472–4.628; P = .0010), and TBSA of the trunk (OR, 0.982; 95% CI, 0.965–1.000; P = .0439) (but not overall TBSA) were associated with a high acute operative burden. Battle vs nonbattle (OR, 0.546; 95% CI, 0.360–0.829; P = .0045), and TBSA of the upper extremities (OR, 1.008; 95% CI, 1.002–1.013; P = .0042) were noted to be significant variables in predicting late reconstruction operations. The operative burden of burn, not previously well characterized, consists of operations performed during as well as after the initial hospitalization. While injury severity and truncal involvement are significant determinants of acute surgical therapy, the presence of upper extremity burns is a significant determinant of reconstruction following discharge.
From the *U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, Fort Sam Houston, Texas; †Dental and Trauma Research Detachment, U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, Fort Sam Houston, Texas; and ‡Burn Center, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas.
Address correspondence to Rodney K. Chan, MD, U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, Fort Sam Houston, Texas.