October 2010 Archives

October 28, 2010

Feet Burn In Diabetic Patients

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease that has many complications, among which is the effect of diabetes on the blood vessels leading to damage, narrowing and may lead to blockage of the blood vessels, leading to alteration of blood perfusion and subsequent reduction in the oxygen and nutritional delivery to the tissues which will affect wound healing. Diabetes can affect the nerves leading to nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy); nerves affected are responsible for temperature, pressure, texture and pain sensation. The nerves of the lower legs and feet when affected can lead to insensitivity to temperature and pain in the lower legs and feet and patients may experience numbness and tingling sensation in these areas.

Diabetic patients with neuropathy have an increased risk of burn injuries. These burns may happen from soaking the feet in hot water, heating pads, walking on hot surface, and contact with a warming device such as heaters. Because of the impaired sensation of the feet in these patients, they may sustain a burn injury without being aware of it. These patients have poor wound healing due to the effect of diabetes on the nerves and blood vessels and the increased risk of wound infection in diabetic patients.

Burns in diabetic patients even when they are minor may lead to ulceration of the wound, serious infection and even amputation of the limb. Therefore preventing and early recognition of burns in diabetic patients is very important.

Prevention:


  • Maintain a proper glucose level.

  • Test water temperature before going into the bath with a sensitive body part such as the elbow.

  • Avoid using a contact warming device such as a heater.

  • Inspect your feet and toes every day for infection, burns, bruises and ulcer.

  • Avoid walking barefoot even inside the house.

  • Avoid using heating pads.

  • Don't wear tight or loose shoes; wear a well fit shoe with a soft, thick socks.

  • Contact your doctor if there is an infection, an ulcer or a burn which is not healing well.

  • Make sure your feet are examined during each doctor's visit

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This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

October 27, 2010

Face Transplant

Face transplant is an advanced medical procedure that involves replacing part or all of the patient's face with a donor (cadaver) face.

Face transplant can be a partial transplant in which only a section of the tissue is taken from the donor and given to the patient who is receiving it (recipient). It can be a full face transplant in which the entire face is transplanted or the face and the underlying scalp are transplanted. Face transplant is similar to other organ transplant in which the immune system may reject the transplant. The immune system will attack and destroy any tissue that it recognizes as foreign. Even if there is a match in tissue between the donor and recipient, there is still the possibility of rejection. Such patients will have to be on drugs that suppress the immune system for a long period of time. These immune suppressant drugs will increase the risk of infection. There are other risks involved in face transplant such as risks related to surgery like infection.

The world's first partial face transplant was carried out in November of 2005 in France for a patient who had her face ravaged by her dog, the operation was successful, it took 15-hours and the patient is fine now. The donor of the face should be a person who is on life support who has brain death with no hope of recovering (the face tissue has to be viable receiving blood supply); this may be a concern as the family of the donor must be willing to turn off the life support machine.

The face features of a person depend on the skin and the underlying muscle and bone. The patient only receives skin from the donor. Therefore the person who receives a face transplant will not look exactly like the donor but his/her features will be a combination of his/her original features and the features of the donor. Having a different face can be emotionally traumatic; these patients may need counseling.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

October 25, 2010

Laser Skin Burns After Hair Removal

Laser hair removal is one of the medical procedures used to remove unwanted hair from the skin. Laser simply works by distinguishing color differences between the hair and the skin, it goes and hits the darker color area which is the hair, leading to heating of the hair follicle and destroying it making it unable to grow new hair.

This procedure has become more popular over the years, and although laser hair removal is relatively safe in the hands of an experienced technician, side effects may occur. These side effects may range from skin swelling and redness to skin burns and even scaring (replacement of normal skin with fibrous tissue).

Skin burns occur either due to the prolonged use of the laser on specific areas or may result when the intensity of heat is too high. The skin will absorb the laser energy which may lead to skin burns. These burns are usually minor burns but severe burns may also occur (second and third degree burns). Seek medical attention if the burn doesn't heal or it takes a long time healing.

Other side effects of laser hair removal may include:

Redness, swelling, slight pain, infection, bleeding, color change in the form of darkening of the skin (hyperpigmentation) or lightening of the skin (hypopigmentation).

Before going through a laser hair removal procedure, make sure you discuss all the other options available. You should discuss all the concerns and questions you have with a laser specialist, he/she should be able to answer all your questions, explain all the risks associated with the procedure and tell you if you are an appropriate candidate for the procedure. The success of the procedure depends on how much experience and training the technician/specialist has.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

October 22, 2010

Burns In Pediatrics

One of the most common causes of hospital admission of pediatric patients is burns. Most pediatric burns occur at home. The most common cause of burns in young children is exposure to hot liquids (scald injury) such as hot water. Contact with hot objects is the second most common cause of burn in young children. Pediatric burns differ from adult burns in many aspects.

Their skin is more sensitive and less resistant to heat and because it is harder for them to escape from the burning object, this may lead to longer exposure which may increase the burn severity.

Pediatrics have a smaller body size than adults with a greater body surface area in relation to their weight. Fluid loss is proportionally greater in young children when compared to the same percentage of burn in adults because of their smaller circulating volume and different distribution of body fluids leading to more rapid onset of fluid and electrolyte disturbance and imbalance. Therefore pediatrics especially infants develop hypovolemic shock faster and fluid replacement should be started as soon as possible which is calculated according to certain formulas.

Small children are at a greater risk to have a decrease in body temperature (hypothermia) due to the insufficiency of their thermoregulatory system, they are less tolerant to changes in temperature (see regulation of body temperature).

In case there is a burn to the genital area and the child is still wearing diapers, special attention should be taken as the burned area may be contaminated easily making it more susceptible for infection.

Pediatric patients with burns are harder to cannulate (insert a cannula) than adults and the smaller the child is the harder it is. Airway intubation is also harder in pediatrics than adults and the smaller the child is, the harder it is to intubate especially after burns that affect the airways. That is why trachiostomy is sometimes needed.

One of the things that differentiate small children from adults is the inability of small children to speak and express what they feel. The parents play a major role in this case because they know their child better than anyone else and know when there is something wrong with him/her. Therefore when your child is to be discharged you have to make sure that your child is feeling well.

Prevention of scald burns:

  • Water heater thermostat should not be set higher than 120 degrees.
  • Bathtub water should be checked before putting the child in the tub.
  • Never leave the child in the bathtub alone as he/she might turn on the facet or the water may become too hot and lead to scaled injury.
  • Keep hot liquids out of the reach of children like turning pot handles on the stove out of the reach of children.
  • Avoid carrying hot object while carrying the child.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission a child exposed to hot tap water of 140 degree for three seconds develops a third degree burn.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics between 2001 and 2005, each year approximately 116,600 children are treated for fire/burn injuries. Fires and burns are the third leading cause of unintentional death among children aged 1-14 years in 2004.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

October 21, 2010

Tissue Expansion

Tissue expansion is a procedure that allows the body to grow extra skin. It is done by inserting a silicone balloon expander under the skin near the area to be repaired (such as scars happening after burns) and then gradually filling the balloon with salt water over time causing the skin to stretch and grow (keeping the skin under tension causes new cells to form).

Tissue expansion is used in conditions such as breast reconstruction surgery, repairing burns, scars, large birth marks, hairy areas such as the scalp (the extra skin is still able to grow hair).

After the skin stretches the scaring is surgically removed and the expanded skin is extended to meet healthy un-scarred skin.

The advantage of this procedure is that it provides a good match of color, texture and hair bearing quality. The expanded skin has a smaller risk of dying because the skin remains attached to the donor's area blood and nerve supply. Scars are often less apparent because the skin is not removed from one area and transferred to another.

The main disadvantage of the procedure is related to the length of time needed to grow/stretch the skin which may be as long as three to four months. The expander during the expansion process appears as a bulge. Frequent visits to the surgeon are required for salt water injection to expand the balloon. There are risks related to the anesthesia and the surgery such as infection and bleeding.

The silicone balloon expander is inserted by a plastic surgeon under the skin in an initial surgery followed by salt water injection through a period of time than the expander is removed and the new tissue is put in place. During this process most patients feel temporary discomfort which can be controlled by medication prescribed to you by your physician.

You should contact your physician if you see any indication of wound infection, see (wound infection). You have to avoid applying any undue pressure to the area around the tissue expander such as poking it or wearing tight clothes over the area.

Tissue expansion can be an effective method to make scars that result from burns less noticeable; it is not a replacement for skin graft. Skin grafts are usually done when the tissue is destroyed in severe burns.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

October 19, 2010

Burns To The Eyes (Part II)

Flash burns to the eye:

A flash burn to the eye occurs when the person is exposed to a bright ultraviolet light. Causes of flash burn to the eye may include:


  • Welding torch.

  • Direct sunlight.

  • Some types of lamps like halogen lamps.

  • Sunlamp in a tanning salon.

  • Lightning.


Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Usually both eyes are affected.
  • Pain that may be mild to very severe.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Redness and watery eye.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Feeling that there may be something in the eyes.
Treatment:


Seek medical advice and follow the physician's orders, place pads over both eyes until medical help is available.

Prevention:

  • Wear sun glasses that protect against ultraviolet light.
  • Wear safety goggles to protect the eye.
  • When welding always wear a welder's mask.
  • In children with burned eyes applying first aid may be harder depending on the age of the child and his/her ability to cooperate. You need to stay calm and may need to have another adult help you with holding the child to facilitate flushing the eyes (if appropriate).
  • It may take up to 24 hours after the burn to determine the seriousness of the eye injury.
  • Some problems such as infection do not show up right away and that is why it is important to follow up with your doctor to make sure that the eyes are healing properly.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

October 18, 2010

Burns To The Eyes (Part I)

Burns to the eyes can be caused by many different things such as chemicals, hot air, steam, sunlight, welding equipments etc.

Chemical burns:

They can be caused by solid chemicals, liquid chemicals, chemical fumes or powdered material. Damage to the eyes may be minimized if they are washed quickly. The most dangerous chemical burns involve strong acids or alkali (base) substances.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Severe pain: because the pain is so severe, the patient tend to keep the eye closed and by keeping it closed this will keep the substance in contact with the eye for a longer period of time which may increase and worsen the damage.
  • Redness and swelling of the eye.
  • Inability or reluctance of opening the eye.
  • Tears from the eye.
  • Scarring and perforation of the eye.
  • Inability to see.
Treatment:

Treatment of chemical burns of the eye should be done immediately even before medical help arrives. Open the eye and flush it with cool water for at least 10 minutes. Quickly flushing and diluting the chemical substance reduces the chance of permanent eye damage. Make sure to avoid contaminating the good eye by avoiding the contaminated water from falling into it. Hold a sterile pad across the eye until you arrive at the hospital where further treatment will be initiated as needed.

Bursts of flames or flash fires from explosives or stoves may cause injury to the eyes and the lids. Hot air or steam can burn the eyes as well as the face. First aid treatment for heat burns to the eyes or the area around the eye involve flushing the eye with cool water and seeking medical attention.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

October 15, 2010

Surviving a Burn Injury

Burns are one of the most devastating experiences an individual can have. Un- like having an illness or disease that has been diagnosed after a battery of tests and examinations, no one expects to suffer a burn. Who expects the cold water to turn boiling hot without warning while taking a shower? Who would imagine that an old woman scalds herself in the bath tub resulting in a devastating injury which causes enormous physical and mental suffering? Who goes to sleep safe in their bed only to wake up in the midst of a blazing fire? Firemen face the risk of being burned every time they respond to a call. These are some of the real life stories witnessed by a retired Chaplain who has served in one of our nation's top metropolitan burn centers. She has witnessed the worst of the worst, the miracles of modern medicine, the incredible strength of the human spirit and the ability of the body to heal. She will share what she has learned, what she has seen, and what other burn survivors have gone through. You are invited to share your personal story as well.

October 14, 2010

Burn Severity (Part II)

It is important to determine the severity of the burn as this will determine the type of treatment that is necessary and where the burned patient should receive treatment. Minor burns may be treated at home or in a doctor's office. These are defined as first- or second-degree burns covering less than 15 percent of an adult's body or less than 10 percent of a child's body, or a third-degree burn on less than 2 percent BSA. Moderate burns should be treated at a hospital. These are defined as first- or second-degree burns covering 15 percent to 25 percent of an adult's body or 10 percent to 20 percent of a child's body, or a third-degree burn on 2 percent to 10 percent BSA. Critical, or major, burns are the most serious and should be treated in a specialized burn unit. These are defined as first- or second-degree burns covering more than 25 percent of an adult's body or more than 20 percent of a child's body, or a third-degree burn on more than 10 percent BSA. In addition, burns involving the hands, feet, face, eyes, ears, or genitals are considered critical.

NOTE: these are only guidelines. Classification of the type and extent of a burn should be done only by medical professionals. It is best to err on the side of caution and seek medical attention. What you may consider minor may in fact be severe.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

October 13, 2010

Burn Severity (Part I)

A burn is an injury to the tissue; it can be caused by heat, chemicals, electricity, radiation or friction.
Burns can be classified according to the depth of burn: first degree, second degree and third degree burns. It can also be classified into superficial partial thickness which is the first degree, deep partial thickness which is the second degree and the full thickness area which is the third degree burns.
The severity of burn is affected by many factors which are:


  1. The degree (depth) of burned area: first, second and third degree burn.

  2. The total body surface area (percentage) affected: burns are measured as a percentage of the total body surface area affected; one of the ways used is the rule of nines which divides the body into sections of 9 percent. This rule is adjusted for children and infants because they have a larger head and neck surface area and smaller limbs surface area.

  3. Location of burn: there are certain areas in the body that require special care when they are affected, if the face is affected there will be a risk of breathing problems because of swelling and inflammation. If the hands and feet are affected there is a risk of having limitation of movement because of scarring. If the perineum (the area of the body extending from the anus to the genitals) is affected, there is a risk of having contractures (tightening of skin) and infection. Circumferential burn (one that goes around a finger, toe, arm, leg, neck, or chest) is considered more severe than a non circumferential one because it can have a tourniquet effect on circulation or breathing (compress the vessels or airways). Eye burns are also important as they may cause blindness.

  4. The age of the person: toddler aged children have more damage to their skin than similar burns in older children and adults because they have thinner skin.

  5. Associated injuries like fractures or pre-existing medical conditions like heart conditions and immune suppression.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.