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J Surg Res. 2018 Jan;221:275-284. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2017.08.019. Epub 2017 Oct 5.

Comparison of the Lund and Browder table to computed tomography scan three-dimensional surface area measurement for a pediatric cohort.

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The Battelle Center for Mathematical Medicine at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio.
Radiology-Pathology Center for Forensic Imaging, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Burn Center, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Department of Pediatric Surgery, Columbus, Ohio.
The Battelle Center for Mathematical Medicine at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio. Electronic address:



Treating burns effectively requires accurately assessing the percentage of the total body surface area (%TBSA) affected by burns. Current methods for estimating %TBSA, such as Lund and Browder (L&B) tables, rely on historic body statistics. An increasingly obese population has been blamed for increasing errors in %TBSA estimates. However, this assumption has not been experimentally validated. We hypothesized that errors in %TBSA estimates using L&B were due to differences in the physical proportions of today's children compared with children in the early 1940s when the chart was developed and that these differences would appear as body mass index (BMI)-associated systematic errors in the L&B values versus actual body surface areas.


We measured the TBSA of human pediatric cadavers using computed tomography scans. Subjects ranged from 9 mo to 15 y in age. We chose outliers of the BMI distribution (from the 31st percentile at the low through the 99th percentile at the high). We examined surface area proportions corresponding to L&B regions.


Measured regional proportions based on computed tomography scans were in reasonable agreement with L&B, even with subjects in the tails of the BMI range. The largest deviation was 3.4%, significantly less than the error seen in real-world %TBSA estimates.


While today's population is more obese than those studied by L&B, their body region proportions scale surprisingly well. The primary error in %TBSA estimation is not due to changing physical proportions of today's children and may instead lie in the application of the L&B table.


Burn estimation; Lund and Browder; Pediatric; Total body surface area

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