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Arch Plast Surg. 2013 Sep;40(5):510-6. doi: 10.5999/aps.2013.40.5.510. Epub 2013 Sep 13.

Proposed treatment protocol for frostbite: a retrospective analysis of 17 cases based on a 3-year single-institution experience.

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1
Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Hallym University Hangang Sacred Heart Hospital, Hallym University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

This paper discusses the treatment protocol for patients with frostbite.

METHODS:

We performed a retrospective analysis of a series of 17 patients with second- and higher-degree frostbite who had been treated at our medical institution between 2010 and 2012.

RESULTS:

Our clinical series of patients (n=17) included 13 men and four women, whose mean age was 42.4±11.6 years (range, 22-67 years). The sites of injury include the foot in six patients (35.3%), the hand in six patients (35.3%) and the facial region in five patients (29.4%). Seven patients with second-degree frostbite were completely cured with only conservative treatment during a mean period of 12.7±3.3 days (range, 8-16 days). Of the five patients with third-degree frostbite, two underwent skin grafting following debridement, and the remaining three achieved a complete cure with conservative treatment during a mean period of 35±4.3 days (range, 29-39 days). Five patients with fourth-degree frostbite were treated with surgical procedures including amputation.

CONCLUSIONS:

With the appropriate conservative management in the early stage of onset, surgeons should decide on surgery after waiting for a sufficient period of time until the demarcation of the wound. Continuous management of patients is also needed to achieve functional recovery after a complete cure has been achieved. This should also be accompanied by patient education for the avoidance of re-exposure to cold environments.

KEYWORDS:

Frostbite; Operative surgical procedure; Therapy

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