Rating the Burn Scar

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Abstract

A reliable, objective, and universal method of assessing burn scars does not exist in today's burn literature. Such a method is necessary to provide a descriptive terminology for the comparison of burn scars and the results of treatment. The method should be applicable to patients both within an institution and between burn centers. A burn scar assessment has been devised based on physical parameters. These relate to the healing and maturation of wounds, cosmetic appearance, and the function of the healed skin. Pigmentation, vascularity, pliability, and scar height are assessed independently, with increasing score being assigned to the greater pathologic condition. Normal skin has a score of 0. Seventy-three patients were assessed by three separate occupational therapists and the findings subjected to statistical analysis for interrater reliability. For each parameter a Cohen's K statistic of approximately 0.5 ± 0.1 indicates a statistically significant agreement between observers. These values were found to improve with time. This appears to be a useful tool for the assessment of burn scars, allowing objective comparison of the same scar by different observers.

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