The key decision in the treatment of thermal injuries is the determination of the depth of the burn wound and the resultant decision on treatment options. The trend in the treatment of deep dermal and full thickness burns is toward very early excision and grafting to reduce the risk of infection, decrease scar formation, shorten hospital stay, and thereby reducing costs. Traditionally, this has involved serial clinical examinations, which involves primarily subjective judgment. Various objective examination techniques, supplementing the clinical diagnosis, have been suggested, but none has yet achieved widespread clinical acceptance. It has frequently been postulated that the blood flow in injured tissue indicates the extent of tissue damage. In this study, the clinical and scientific impact of indocyanine green (ICG) video angiography was tested in 20 patients. A wide range of depth of injury and etiology was included and analyzed. In all cases considered, video angiography was possible. The measurements and observations correlated well with the actual burn depth, which was assessed clinically (pre- and intraoperative assessment) and histologically (biopsies). In conclusion, ICG video angiography seems to be a practical method to describe vascular patency in a burn wound. The results indicate that ICG fluorescence angiography is a practical, accurate, and effective adjunct to clinical methods for estimating burn wound depth and thereby to assist in the rational assessment of treatment options. Furthermore, it allows an objective, qualitative and quantitative observation of the dynamic changes in burn wound depth, which are observed during the acute post-burn period, thereby indicating optimal timing of the first operation. © 2003 Elsevier Ltd and ISBI. All rights reserved.
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