Ten year experience of burn, trauma, and combined burn/trauma injuries comparing outcomes

John M Santaniello, Fred A Luchette, Thomas J Esposito, Henry Gunawan, R Lawrence Reed, Kimberly A Davis, Richard L Gamelli
Journal of Trauma 2004, 57 (4): 696-700; dicussion 700-1

BACKGROUND: Percent total body surface area (TBSA) burn, inhalation injury (INH), and age all have been shown to be independent predictors of mortality in burn victims. Little is known regarding patients sustaining combined thermal and mechanical injuries in relation to either injury sustained in isolation or with regard to these variables. This descriptive study profiles the 10-year experience of a single American Burn Association/American College of Surgeons verified Level I trauma and burn center and the treatment of this patient population.

METHODS: A retrospective review of all burn and trauma patients admitted between 1990 and 2000. Patients were divided into three groups; Burn only (B), Trauma only (T), and combined Burn/Trauma (B/T). Groups were compared with respect to age, TBSA burn, length of stay (LOS), Injury Severity Score (ISS), INH and mortality. These groups were then compared with B, T and B/T patients from the National Burn Repository (NBR) and National Trauma Data Bank (NTDB). Student's t test and chi tests were performed, as well as multiple logistic regression to identify independent predictors of mortality. p <0.05 was considered significant.

RESULTS: Through our trauma registry, 24,093 patients were identified (T=22,284, B=1717 and B/T=92). When comparing B and T, there was no difference in age, LOS, ISS, or mortality to those patients in the NBR or NTDB. B/T patients showed significantly increased percentage with INH (B/T=44.5% versus 11%), increased LOS (B/T=18 days versus 13.7 B and 5.3 T) and increased mortality (B/T=28.3% versus 9.8% B and 4.3% T). B/T were also significantly older (B/T=40.1 years versus 31.0 B and 35.1 T). When these variables are compared with the NBR and the NTDB benchmarks, mortality (28.3% versus 11.6% NBR and 7.0% NTDB) and ISS (23 versus 11.7 NTDB) were significantly higher with no difference in age (40.1 versus 33.4 NTDB, 35.9 NBR), LOS (18 days versus 23.3 NBR) or TBSA (20.8% versus 19.5% NBR). Multiple logistic regression comparing TBSA, age, ISS and INH of survivors versus non-survivors identified only ISS as an independent predictor of mortality.

CONCLUSION: B combined with T presents a rare injury pattern that has a synergistic effect on mortality. Physicians and caregivers should be aware of a 2-3 fold increase in the incidence of INH in this population, and increased mortality despite similar TBSA burned when compared with patients with B as the sole mechanism; ISS appears to be an independent predictor of mortality in this combined injury pattern.

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