Primary closure of wounds in burned tissue: Experimental and clinical study

Herbert Ward, David H. Ahrenholz, Herbert Crandall, Lynn D. Solem

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5 Scopus citations


Penetrating wounds in burn tissue may become infected, therefore primary closure of such wounds has only been recommended for lacerations of the face. To determine if wounds in burned areas can be closed primarily if seen early, we created partial-or full-thickness thermal burns in guinea pigs (n = 54) and made incisions through the burned tissue. One side was closed primarily at variable time intervals postburn. Infectious complications were determined by observation and the quantitative bacterial smear technique. All wounds elosed primarily at 24 hours or longer postburn became infected. Wounds closed primarily at 4 hours postburn had fewer infectious complications than wounds left open (p < 0.05). We also reviewed our experience with 23 multiply injured burn patients over an 11-year period who had peritoneal lavage or exploratory laparotomy. There were no wound infections in 12 patients with incisions closed primarily in unburned areas or in 11 patients with wounds through burned tissue. We conclude that lacerations or surgical incisions in burned tissues seen early (<12 hrs) postburn should be treated as wounds in unburned patients. Wounds in burned tissue seen late (>24 hrs) postburn should be considered contaminated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-127
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1985


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