Improving the accuracy of burn-surface estimation

Plast Reconstr Surg. 1985 Sep;76(3):428-33. doi: 10.1097/00006534-198509000-00017.


A user-friendly computer-assisted method of calculating total body surface area burned (TBSAB) has been developed. This method is more accurate, faster, and subject to less error than conventional methods. For comparison, the ability of 30 physicians to estimate TBSAB was tested. Parameters studied included the effect of prior burn care experience, the influence of burn size, the ability to accurately sketch the size of burns on standard burn charts, and the ability to estimate percent TBSAB from the sketches. Despite the ability for physicians of all levels of training to accurately sketch TBSAB, significant burn size over-estimation (p less than 0.01) and large interrater variability of potential consequence was noted. Direct benefits of a computerized system are many. These include the need for minimal user experience and the ability for wound-trend analysis, permanent record storage, calculation of fluid and caloric requirements, hemodynamic parameters, and the ability to compare meaningfully the different treatment protocols.

MeSH terms

  • Body Surface Area
  • Burns / diagnosis*
  • Computers*
  • Humans