BACKGROUND: Management of combat casualties with severe burns and associated traumatic injuries requires a coordinated interaction of surgical, critical care, and evacuation assets. These patients present enormous challenges to the entire medical system as a result of the severity of injury combined with the great distance required for transport to definitive care. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to review and highlight some of the advances in burn critical care experienced during recent combat operations. This review focuses on initial resuscitation, respiratory support, care of the burn wound, and long range evacuation. DATA SOURCE: The authors conducted a search of the MEDLINE database and manual review of published articles and abstracts from national and international meetings in addition to Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center registry. CONCLUSIONS: Fluid resuscitation during the first 24 to 48 hrs after injury remains a significant challenge for all who manage burn casualties. Guidelines have been developed in an effort to standardize fluid resuscitation during this time. These guidelines along with the standardization of burn wound care and continued provider education have resulted in decreased morbidity and mortality in severely burned patients returning from war zones. This system of care for severely burned patients facilitates the transfer of the burn casualty between healthcare providers and facilities and is now being integrated into the catchment area for the Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center.
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