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Burns. 2013 Feb;39(1):76-81. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2012.03.014. Epub 2012 May 29.

A pilot evaluation study of high resolution digital thermal imaging in the assessment of burn depth.

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West Midlands Regional Burns Centre, University Hospitals of Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, New Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Mindelsohn Way, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2WB, UK.


Thermal imaging is a tool that can be used to determine burn depth. We have revisited the use of this technology in the assessment of burns and aim to establish if high resolution, real-time technology can be practically used in conjunction with clinical examination to determine burn depth. 11 patients with burns affecting upper and lower limbs and the anterior and posterior trunk were included in this study. Digital and thermal images were recorded at between 42 h and 5 days post burn. When compared to skin temperature, full thickness burns were significantly cooler (p<0.001), as were deep partial thickness burns (p<0.05). Superficial partial thickness burns were not significantly different in temperature than non-burnt skin (p>0.05). Typically, full thickness burns were 2.3°C cooler than non-burnt skin; deep partial thickness burns were 1.2°C cooler than non-burnt skin; whilst superficial burns were only 0.1°C cooler. Thermal imaging can correctly determine difference in burn depth. The thermal camera produces images of high resolution and is quick and easy to use.

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