[Management of severe burns during the 1st 72 hours]

Ann Fr Anesth Reanim. 1997;16(4):354-69. doi: 10.1016/s0750-7658(97)81462-1.
[Article in French]


Early and efficient management of severely burned patients facilitates outcome improvement. Pre-hospital care includes fluid loading with 2 mL.kg-1/% burn over the first six hours, sedation and analgesia, prevention of hypothermia and ventilatory support for either critically burned patients or facial, cervical or pulmonary burn injury. The transient stay in a general hospital before transfer to a burn centre allows extension of initial care, the critical investigation for associated injuries (intoxication, multiple trauma) and to perform initial local treatment with sterile coverage or vaseline gauze after a revised assessment of the burned skin area, and possibly escharotomies. The main aim of care in the burn centre is to control hypovolaemia and to obtain maximal tissue perfusion and oxygen delivery to burned tissues, as well as to healthy organs. To manage the burn shock (initially hypovolemic and later on hyperdynamic) catecholamines are often indicated when appropriate fluid loading remains insufficient. Mechanical ventilation is indicated in case of either a deep extensive burn over 60% of total body surface area, or facial and cervical burns or severe pulmonary burn injury from smoke inhalation, carbon monoxide intoxication, tracheobronchial thermal injury and blast injury. Because of the severity of burn-related pain, and the stimulus linked to intensive care, continuous sedation is usually required. Early surgical treatment such as escharotomies, excision and grafting, which cause significant pain as well as blood loss, and hydrotherapy, often require general anaesthesia. Burn injury can modify the volume of distribution and the pharmacokinetics of anaesthetic agents. Finally, chemical or electrical burn, radiation, associated CO intoxication or multiple trauma, as well as burn injury in infants, raise specific problems. With improvement in early intensive care, the survival rate of the most severely burned patients is obviously improving. New techniques in skin substitution will probably further improve the final outcome.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analgesia / methods
  • Anesthesia / methods
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Burn Units
  • Burns / complications
  • Burns / physiopathology
  • Burns / therapy*
  • Burns, Inhalation / therapy
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning / therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Critical Care / methods*
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • First Aid
  • Fluid Therapy
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia / prevention & control
  • Infant
  • Infection Control
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Shock / prevention & control
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents