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Burns. 1999 Sep;25(6):499-504.

A Prospective study on the epidemiology of burns in patients admitted to the Harare burn units.

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Department of Surgery, University of Zimbabwe, Harare.


The purpose of this study was to record the causes and the magnitudes of burn injuries prospectively and to evaluate the outcome of treatment of patients admitted to the burn units in Harare. The median age of the 451 patients included was 6 years (range: 1 month to 71 years), 54% were female and 46% male. The burn injuries were caused by flame in 51% of the cases and hot liquids in 47%. The overall median total body surface area burnt was 13% (range: 0.5 to 99%). Parasuicidal burns (attempted suicides) were noted in 11% of the patients with a median total body surface area burnt of 30% and mortality of 73%. Lodgers were overrepresented in the material. Delayed split skin grafting was done on 26% of the patients and early primary excision and skin grafting on 3%. The overall median hospital stay was 15 days (range: 0 to 229 days). The median hospital stay for patients with delayed split skin grafting was 42 days and that for those with primary excision and split skin grafting was 17 days. The overall mortality was 22%. All patients with burns larger than 65% of the total body surface area died. Burn injuries were more frequent and larger with higher mortality in females than in males. Flame was the major cause of the burns. Self-inflicted burns, noted mainly in young women, resulted in 73% mortality. Primary excision and grafting reduced hospital stay by 60% compared to delayed skin grafting.

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