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Anesthesiology. 2015 Feb;122(2):448-64. doi: 10.1097/ALN.0000000000000559.

Acute and perioperative care of the burn-injured patient.

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From the Department of Anesthesiology, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts (E.A.B., E.S., J.A.J.M.); Shriners Hospitals for Children®, Boston, Massachusetts (E.A.B., E.S., J.A.J.M.); Department of Anesthesiology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas (L.W.); and Shriners Hospitals for Children®, Galveston, Texas (L.W.).


Care of burn-injured patients requires knowledge of the pathophysiologic changes affecting virtually all organs from the onset of injury until wounds are healed. Massive airway and/or lung edema can occur rapidly and unpredictably after burn and/or inhalation injury. Hemodynamics in the early phase of severe burn injury is characterized by a reduction in cardiac output and increased systemic and pulmonary vascular resistance. Approximately 2 to 5 days after major burn injury, a hyperdynamic and hypermetabolic state develops. Electrical burns result in morbidity much higher than expected based on burn size alone. Formulae for fluid resuscitation should serve only as guideline; fluids should be titrated to physiologic endpoints. Burn injury is associated basal and procedural pain requiring higher than normal opioid and sedative doses. Operating room concerns for the burn-injured patient include airway abnormalities, impaired lung function, vascular access, deceptively large and rapid blood loss, hypothermia, and altered pharmacology.

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