Early excision and grafting of small burn wounds is a generally accepted treatment. Early excision of burn injuries greater than 30% total body surface area (TBSA) in adults, however, has not been universally accepted. In this study, 85 patients whose ages ranged from 17 to 55 years with greater than 30% total body surface area (TBSA) burns were randomly assigned to either early excision or topical antimicrobial therapy and skin grafting after spontaneous eschar separation. Mortality from burns without inhalation injury was significantly decreased by early excision from 45% to 9% in patients who were 17 to 30 years of age (p < 0.025). No differences in mortality could be demonstrated between therapies in adult patients older than 30 years of age or with a concomitant inhalation injury. Children (n=259) with similar large burns treated by early excision showed a significant increase in mortality with increasing burn size and with concomitant inhalation injury (p < 0.05). The mean length of hospital stay of survivors was less than one day per cent of TBSA burn in both children and adults.
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