Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Factors Affecting Success of Split-Thickness Skin Grafts in the Modern Burn Unit

Thourani, Vinod H. MD; Ingram, Walter L. MD; Feliciano, David V. MD

The Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection, and Critical Care: March 2003 - Volume 54 - Issue 3 - p 562-568
doi: 10.1097/01.TA.0000053246.04307.2E

Background  The use of early tangential excision or excision to fascia of burn wounds has led to the application of split-thickness skin grafts (STSGs) to a variety of graft beds, including dermis, granulation tissue, fat, and fascia. Because insufficient objective data are available on the effect of the graft bed on survival of an STSG, a 2-year review of success rates of STSGs on a variety of graft beds was completed.

Methods  The success rates of all 599 STSGs applied to dermis, granulation tissue, fat, and fascia in 233 consecutive burn patients (mean total body surface area [TBSA] burned, 14.5%) by one surgeon at a regional burn center over a 2-year period were reviewed. Data were analyzed to compare outcomes of STSGs on the graft beds listed and in low-risk versus high-risk groups of patients (TBSA burned ≤ 35% and > 35%; age ≤ 18 years and > 18 years; age ≤ 55 years and > 55 years; and diabetes mellitus). One-way analysis of variance was used to compare results of STSGs on different graft beds, and t tests were used to analyze differences in results of STSGs in low-risk versus high-risk groups (p < 0.05, significant).

Results  The mean success rate at 14 days for all 599 STSGs applied in the 233 patients was 90 ± 22%. The success rate of STSG on the various surfaces ranged from 85% (fascia) to 93% (dermis; granulation), but the differences among the four graft beds were not significant. Total body surface area burned (> 35%), older age (> 55 years), and the presence of diabetes mellitus each had a significant impact on the percentage take of STSGs at 14 days after application.

Conclusion  In the hands of an experienced burn surgeon, the recipient bed has no significant impact on the success rate of STSGs at 14 days postgrafting, except in those patients 18 years or younger, in which the mean STSG success rate was significantly greater on granulation tissue compared with fat. TBSA burned > 35%, age > 55 years, and the presence of diabetes mellitus continue to have an adverse impact on the success rate of STSGs at 14 days.

From the Grady Burn Center (W.L.I.) and Department of Surgery (D.V.F.), Grady Memorial Hospital, and Department of Surgery (V.H.T.), Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia.

Submitted for publication October 2, 2001.

Accepted for publication December 5, 2002.

This work was scheduled for presentation at the 61st Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, which was canceled because of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Address for reprints: Walter L. Ingram, MD, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine, 69 Butler Street, S.E., Atlanta, GA 30303; email:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.