Smoke-Inhalation a Major Concern for Burn Patients

Smoke inhalation injuries connected to longer time in intensive care

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Burn patients have more to worry about than just what's on the outside. A new study shows the impact of smoke inhalation on burn patients.

Burn patients with severe smoke inhalation required more time on ventilators, had increased inflammation and had to spend more time in intensive care. These findings can help doctors find ways to reduce inflmmation and better treat smoke-inhalation injuries.

"Avoid any unnecessary smoke inhalation."

Inflammation is the body's way of healing wounds but too much inflammation can actually damage surrounding healthy tissue.

The study conducted by Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine stated that out of the 40,000 people hospitalized for burns each year, up to 20 percent have smoke-inhalation related injuries. Researchers examined 60 patients who were graded on a scale of zero to four based on inflammation, with zero having no injury and four having massive injury.

Out of the 60 patients, nine had a Grade of Zero, fifteen had Grade One injuries, fifteen had Grade Two, eighteen had Grade Three and three had Grade Four injuries.

Researchers examined 28 proteins associated with inflammation, called cytokines, and found that the highest concentration of 21 of cytokines were found in the most severe smoke-inhalation injuries. On average, patients with Grade One or Two injuries spent a week in a ventilator. Patients with Grade Three or Four injuries spent 23 days in a ventilator.

Burn patients with severe smoke-inhalation spent 11 more days in intensive care and also required more tracheotomies than patients with less-severe smoke-inhalation injuries. Smoke-inhalation played no role in deaths, hospital stay or pneumonia.

The researchers conclude that this study can help doctors better understand smoke-inhalation injuries. By identifying an increase in inflammation or time on a ventilator, future research can find new ways to reduce inflammation and possibly reduce the impact of smoke-inhalation injuries.

This study was published in the November edition of Critical Care Medicine.

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Review Date: 
November 17, 2011
Last Updated:
November 25, 2011