Hyperspectral Imaging for Burn Depth Assessment in an Animal Model

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Abstract

Background:

Differentiating between superficial and deep-dermal (DD) burns remains challenging. Superficial-dermal burns heal with conservative treatment; DD burns often require excision and skin grafting. Decision of surgical treatment is often delayed until burn depth is definitively identified. This study’s aim is to assess the ability of hyperspectral imaging (HSI) to differentiate burn depth.

Methods:

Thermal injury of graded severity was generated on the dorsum of hairless mice with a heated brass rod. Perfusion and oxygenation parameters of injured skin were measured with HSI, a noninvasive method of diffuse reflectance spectroscopy, at 2 minutes, 1, 24, 48 and 72 hours after wounding. Burn depth was measured histologically in 12 mice from each burn group (n = 72) at 72 hours.

Results:

Three levels of burn depth were verified histologically: intermediate-dermal (ID), DD, and full-thickness. At 24 hours post injury, total hemoglobin (tHb) increased by 67% and 16% in ID and DD burns, respectively. In contrast, tHb decreased to 36% of its original levels in full-thickness burns. Differences in deoxygenated and tHb among all groups were significant (P < 0.001) at 24 hours post injury.

Conclusions:

HSI was able to differentiate among 3 discrete levels of burn injury. This is likely because of its correlation with skin perfusion: superficial burn injury causes an inflammatory response and increased perfusion to the burn site, whereas deeper burns destroy the dermal microvasculature and a decrease in perfusion follows. This study supports further investigation of HSI in early burn depth assessment.

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