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Am J Surg. 1992 Nov;164(5):472-6.

The elderly burn patient.

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Parkland Memorial Hospital, Dallas, Texas.


During a 16-year period, 547 patients who were older than 64 years of age with a mean total body surface area (TBSA) (third-degree burns) of 25% were treated. Etiologies were flame/flash in 81% of patients, scald in 11%, solids in 7%, and electrical/chemical in 1%. Seventeen percent of patients had significant causal factors. An inhalation injury was present in 13% of patients, and the mortality in these patients was 100%. Burn excision was performed 239 times in 165 patients. The majority of excisions were for full-thickness burns. Excision did not improve overall survival in patients with third-degree burns of 0% to 10%, but the length of stay (LOS) in excised and nonexcised survivors was improved (9 versus 21 days, respectively). The LOS and survival were not significantly different in patients with burns between 11% and 20%. Postburn complications occurred in 28% of patients. Overall mortality was 50% (mean age: 77 years; TBSA: 40%). There were no survivors with over 47% TBSA burns. The leading cause of death was pulmonary sepsis. Most surviving patients returned to a satisfactory lifestyle after discharge.

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