Fourth-degree hand burns are rare but devastating injuries. They cannot be grafted readily but often require flaps and amputation, and impairment is significant. We report our 10-year experience (1981 to 1990) with deep hand burns to characterize our treatment and outcome. A total of 25 patients (35 hands) were treated. Eight local flaps, nine distant flaps, and two free-tissue transfers were performed. Eleven hands were treated with K-wire immobilization and grafting. Thirty-three amputations were done. Postburn function was evaluated in 25 salvaged hands. Eleven hands had good outcomes, whereas seven had moderate sequelae and seven were severely affected. Patients who were treated with flap coverage of exposed tendons and joints had better functonal outcomes than those treated with delayed closure with immobilization and grafting. The excellent outcomes in the flap coverage group justifies the added commitment of technical and therapeutic resources that this treatment requires.
©1995The American Burn Association