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Frostbite injuries treated in the Helsinki area from 1995 to 2002.

Journal of Trauma 2004 December
BACKGROUND: : Exposure to cold results in frostbite, superficial or deeper tissue damage. In severe frostbites, amputations are life-saving but diminish quality of life (QOL).

METHODS: : Retrospective study was performed. RAND 36- questionnaire was administered to assess QOL. Our aim was to investigate risk factors and adjustment to everyday life of hospitalized patients.

RESULTS: : 92 frostbites in 42 patients were recorded. One third of the patients were chronic alcoholics. Age and temperature were statistically significant factors for unfavorable outcome. 20% of patients required secondary reconstructive procedures. One-third reported their emotional well-being very poor. Half had limitations in social life.

CONCLUSIONS: : Hospitalized cases of frostbite are rare. Anti-social behavior increases the risk in general, and patients present with complicated problems similar to those encountered in burns victims. We recommend that frostbite patients requiring hospital attendance are treated in specialized units, where sufficient expertise for acute as well as reconstructive surgery is available.

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