Blood Flow Dynamics in Burns

Abstract: Objectives:Burns of intermediate thickness are hard to evaluate clinically. This often leads to unnecessary delays of up to 14 days before a surgical decision can be made. To counter this, several objective methods have been developed to determine the healing potential of the wound. Over the years, measurement of perfusion has proven to be the most successful method for evaluation of healing potential. Laser Doppler imaging (LDI) is currently the most used method and can determine surgical need 2 days after injury with an accuracy >90%.  There are however emerging techniques like laser speckle contrast imaging (LSCI), which also measure perfusion. LSCI have several advantages over LDI and is easier to use. LSCI can also investigate aspects of the microcirculation, previously not possible with LDI. The aim of this thesis was to investigate LSCI’s ability to evaluate surgical need in burns of indeterminate partial-thickness.  The first objective was to investigate the dynamics of perfusion the first 14 days after injury. The purpose was to find the optimal time-window for perfusion measurements. The next goal was to determine the accuracy of different perfusion cut-offs. In this second study, the benefit of a subsequent measurement was also investigated. After this, interobserver variation between different profession groups was studied. Both the agreement of perfusion measurements and observer assessments were evaluated. Finally, cardiac vasomotion in combination with perfusion (pulsatility) was investigated as a method to determine surgical need <48 hours after injury.  Methods:Perfusion was measured in a total of 77 patients at the Department of Plastic Surgery, Hand Surgery and Burns at Linköping University Hospital, Sweden. Most of these patients were children and the most common type of burn was scalds. A laser speckle contrast imager (PeriCam PSI System, Perimed AB, Järfälla, Sweden) was used to measure perfusion.  Results:  In the first paper we showed a clear relation between perfusion dynamics and the healing potential of the wound. The changes in perfusion were largest the first 5 days after injury, why this time interval was selected for subsequent papers. Perfusion measurements done day 3-4 after injury could predict surgical need with a sensitivity of 100% (95% CI: 83.9-100%) and a specificity of 90.4% (95% CI: 83.8-94.9%). If two measurements were used, <24 hours and 3-4 days after injury, the accuracy was 100%. Furthermore, we found that different observers could consistently predict perfusion, while there was a large variation in their clinical assessments. This was not improved by extensive burn experience. Finally, pulsatility could be used to predict surgical need the same day as the injury occurred with a sensitivity of 100% (95% CI: 88.1-100%) and a specificity of 98.8% (95% CI: 95.7- 99.9%).  Conclusions:  LSCI is a promising method for evaluation of burns and provides several benefits over LDI. The surgical need of burns can be determined mere hours after injury when pulsatility is measured. However, the benefits of early scald diagnostics in children with LSCI need to be evaluated in a prospective study before the method is ready for routine clinical use.

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