Rapid estimation of the area of chronic wounds is clinically important. A simple method using the thumb was investigated for universal physical measurement, particularly of small and multiple wounds; the thumb surface area (TSA) was then compared with the total body surface area (TBSA).
A cross-sectional observational study and random sampling were used to obtain the characteristics of 343 participants. Data related to handprint surface area of the thumb and palm were collected using a scanner and laptop and assessed using image software. The TSA as a percentage of TBSA was confirmed based on the traditional rule that regards palmar surface area as 1% of TBSA. Information on factors potentially influencing measurement was gathered with questionnaires to analyze correlations.
The left and right TSAs were on average 4.27% and 4.28%, respectively, of the palmar surface area for all participants. Multiple linear regression analysis found that male and older participants had higher TSA:TBSA proportions (sex, P = .0020; age, P < .0001). The TSA:TBSA proportion increased by age for both males (by age group, 0.0418%, 0.0426%, 0.0432%, and 0.0460%, respectively) and females (0.0400%, 0.0409%, 0.0427%, and 0.0430%, respectively).
Thumb size is relatively stable in relation to TBSA, lending itself to a universal method for estimating the size of chronic wounds as a percentage of TBSA. It therefore represents a convenient physical measurement for assessing the area of burns and other wounds.