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Comparative assessment of cultured skin substitutes and native skin autograft for treatment of full-thickness burns

S T Boyce, M J Goretsky, D G Greenhalgh, R J Kagan, M T Rieman, G D Warden
Annals of Surgery 1995, 222 (6): 743-52

OBJECTIVE: Comparison of cultured skin substitutes (CSSs) and split-thickness autograft (STAG) was performed to assess whether the requirement for autologous skin grafts may be reduced in the treatment of massive burns.

SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA: Cultured skin substitutes consisting of collagen-glycosaminoglycan substrates populated with autologous fibroblasts and keratinocytes have been demonstrated to close full-thickness skin wounds in athymic mice and to express normal skin antigens after closure of excised wounds in burn patients.

METHODS: Data were collected from 17 patients between days 2 and 14 to determine incidence of exudate, incidence of regrafting, coloration, keratinization, and percentage of site covered by graft (n = 17). Outcome was evaluated on an ordinal scale (0 = worst; 10 = best) beginning at day 14, with primary analyses at 28 days (n = 10) and 1 year (n = 4) for erythema, pigmentation, epithelial blistering, surface roughness, skin suppleness, and raised scar.

RESULTS: Sites treated with CSSs had increased incidence of exudate (p = 0.06) and decreased percentage of engraftment (p < 0.05) compared with STAG. Outcome parameters during the first year showed no differences in erythema, blistering, or suppleness. Pigmentation was greater, scar was less raised, but regrafting was more frequent in CSS sites than STAG. No differences in qualitative outcomes were found after 1 year, and antibodies to bovine collagen were not detected in patient sera.

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that outcome of engrafted CSSs is not different from STAG and that increased incidence of regrafting is related to decreased percentage of initial engraftment. Increased rates of engraftment of CSSs may lead to improved outcome for closure of burn wounds, allow greater availability of materials for grafting, and reduce requirements for donor skin autograft.

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