A Review of the Local Pathophysiologic Bases of Burn Wound Progression

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Burn wound progression refers to the phenomenon of continued tissue necrosis in the zone of stasis after abatement of the initial thermal insult. A multitude of chemical and mechanical factors contribute to the local pathophysiologic process of burn wound progression. Prolonged inflammation results in an accumulation of cytotoxic cytokines and free radicals, along with neutrophil plugging of dermal venules. Increased vascular permeability and augmentations of interstitial hydrostatic pressure lead to edema with vascular congestion. Hypercoagulability with thrombosis further impairs blood flow, while oxidative stress damages endothelial cells and compromises vascular patency. A number of studies have investigated the utility of various agents in modulating these mechanisms of burn wound progression. However, as many of studies have used animal models of burn injury, often with administration of therapy preburn, obscuring the clinical applicability of the results to burn patients is of questionable benefit. An understanding of the complex, interrelated mediators of burn wound progression and their ultimate point of convergence in effecting tissue necrosis—cell apoptosis or oncosis—will allow for the future development of therapeutic interventions.

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