Background. Excisional therapy for burn wounds is frequently associated with large operative blood losses. Our objective was to identify patient and operative factors that affect surgical blood loss and determine strategies to minimize hemorrhage. Methods. Data from 92 consecutive pediatric patients with severe burns (>40% total body surface area) were evaluated. Patient demographics, burn characteristics, operative factors, and clinical course variables were correlated with blood loss. Blood loss at the time of initial total burn excision was determined by a standardized, previously validated method. Data were analyzed sequentially and cumulatively through univariate and cross-sectional multivariate linear regression. Results. Demographic factors that correlated with increased blood loss were older age, male sex, and larger body size. Area of full-thickness (third-degree) burn correlated with blood loss, whereas total burn size did not. High wound bacteria counts (derived from quantitative tissue cultures), total wound area excised, and operative time were the strongest predictors of the volume of operative hemorrhage. Blood loss increased with delay to primary burn excision at a maximum at 5 to 12 days after burn injury. Conclusions. Early definitive surgical therapy before extensive bacterial colonization and rapid operative excision is a strategy that may decrease operative hemorrhage and transfusion requirements during burn surgical procedures.
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