The diagnosis and management of inhalation injury: An evidence based approach

C. J. Deutsch, A. Tan, S. Smailes, P. Dziewulski

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Introduction: Smoke inhalation injury (II) is an independent risk factor for mortality in burns and its management is inherently complex. We aim to make recommendations for best practice in managing II and its sequelae by reviewing all available current evidence in order to provide an evidence-based approach. Methods: We conducted a systematic search of the Cochrane database and Embase using PRISMA guidelines with no patient population exclusion criteria. Published work was reviewed and evidence levels graded. Results: We identified 521 abstracts for inclusion. Of the 84 articles identified for secondary review, 28 papers were excluded leaving 56 papers suitable for final inclusion. Conclusions: We are able to identify a number of strategies in both diagnosis and treatment of II that have support in the published literature, including the role of bronchoscopy, permissive hypercapnia, nebulized heparin and hydroxycobalamin. Other strategies have not been shown to be harmful, but their efficacy is also not firmly established, such as high frequency oscillatory ventilation and exogenous surfactant. Prophylactic antibiotics and corticosteroids are not recommended. In general, published evidence for II is mostly Level 3 or below, due to a noticeable lack of large-scale human studies. This represents a challenge for evidence-based burns practice as a whole.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1040-1051
Number of pages12
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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