[The role of skin substitutes in the surgical treatment of extensive burns covering more than 60 % of total body surface area. A review of patients over a 10-year period at the Tours University Hospital.]
Progress in intensive care and surgery has made it possible to significantly improve the survival of victims with burns over 60% of total body surface area (TBSA). Coverage of the excised areas of these patients can be difficult when there is a shortage of skin donor sites; then the role of skin substitutes can be important. This retrospective study included patients with burns covering more than 60% TBSA and treated at the Tours University Hospital over a period of 10 years. Patients who died during the first week or who presented superficial burns were excluded. The various substitutions means to temporarily or permanently replace the cutaneous barrier are presented. The biological dressings associated with grafts expanded by six according to the sandwich technique, allografts and xenografts, widely expanded postage stamp skin grafts using a modified Meek technique (Humeca(®)), temporary cutaneous substitutes such as Biobrane(®) and skin substitutes colonized by autologous cells (Integra(®)) are presented. Forty-four patients were admitted. Self-immolations represented 52% of the cases. Twenty-one patients were treated with Integra(®), 5 with Biobrane(®), 17 with sandwich grafts and 4 with postage stamp skin grafts. Integra(®) was widely used when donor sites were insufficient. The mean number of surgical procedures per patient was 8.4. The mean duration of hospitalization was 155 days. Twenty-four patients survived until the end of treatment. Eighteen patients died during the first week before any surgery could be performed. Two patients died at the end of treatment. The overall survival rate was 55%. It was 92% for patients who survived the first week. The principal sequel were functional (hand, cervical, thoracic and axillary contractures) and aesthetic (face and hands). Associated treatments were pressotherapy, physical therapy, ergotherapy and thermal water therapy. By temporarily replacing the cutaneous barrier in the absence of sufficient donor sites, skin substitutes make it possible to increase the survival of patients with very extensive burns and to optimize their treatment.