JOURNAL ARTICLE

[Epidemiological investigation of 615 patients with chemical burns in eastern China]

Hui Gao, Wei Li, Yuan-dang Zhao
Zhonghua Shao Shang za Zhi, Zhonghua Shaoshang Zazhi, Chinese Journal of Burns 2012, 28 (6): 411-4
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OBJECTIVE: To investigate the epidemiological factors in the first aid, early management, and treatment of chemical burns.

METHODS: Medical records of 615 inpatients with chemical burns out of 2682 burn patients hospitalized from January 2001 to December 2010 were screened to retrospectively analyze the clinical data, including gender, age, burn area and depth, occurrence regularity, injury cause, injury-causing chemicals, wound site, complications, pre-hospital management, treatment and prognosis. Annual number of burn patients and annual number of patients with chemical burns were statistically analyzed with linear trend test.

RESULTS: (1) Among all the chemical burn patients, 562 (91.4%) were male and 53 (8.6%) female. The mean age of patients was (32 ± 12) years. Burn area ranged from 1% to 95%, with mean area of (30 ± 25)% TBSA. Full-thickness burn area ranged from 0 to 85%, with mean area of (18 ± 24)% TBSA. (2) The annual number of burn patients showed a slow trend of increase during the last decade (χ(2) = 4.009, P < 0.05). There was no statistically significant difference in the annual number of patients with chemical burns among the last decade (χ(2) = 0.060, P > 0.05). Chemical burns mainly occurred in summer and autumn, and the incidence gradually increased in April, peaked in August, and then gradually decreased. (3) Five hundred and seventy-two cases (93.0%) were injured while working, among these patients 70.8% (405/572) were injured in private enterprises. (4) Acid was the most common injury-causing chemical (299 patients, accounting for 48.6%). (5) The extremities and head were the most involved areas. (6) Among 615 patients with chemical burns, 47 cases (7.6%) were complicated by inhalation injury, 94 cases (15.3%) by ocular burns, 51 cases (8.3%) by combined injury, and 67 cases (10.9%) by poisoning. (7) Most patients did not receive (30.4%, 187/615) or only insufficient (61.1%, 376/615) immediate irrigation after injury in pre-hospital management. (8) Two hundred and twelve patients (34.5%) underwent skin grafting or flap transplantation after early total or tangential excision of eschar within one week post injury. Among all the patients, 599 cases were cured with 11 eyes becoming blind in 8 patients, and sixteen patients died with a mortality rate of 2.6%.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with chemical burns accounted for a high proportion of the burn patients admitted to our unit in the same period, and they were mainly injured while working. Sufficient irrigation and immediate detoxification are key points in the treatment of chemical burns. Early total or tangential excision of eschar of deep wounds could reduce the possibility of poisoning.

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