Noninvasive Techniques for the Determination of Burn Severity in Real Time

David M. Burmeister, Cesario Cerna, Sandra C. Becerra, Mark Sloan, Gerald Wilmink, Robert J. Christy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Visual diagnosis of second-degree burns has proven inadequate for determining the appropriate treatment regimen. Although multiple noninvasive imaging techniques have shown promise for providing information about burn wound severity, the ideal technology to aid burn wound excision would provide real-time readouts. Herein, the authors examine a high-resolution infrared (IR) camera (thermography) and a multiprobe adapter system (MPAS-6; transepidermal evaporative water loss, colorimetry) to assess their usefulness in predicting burn severity. Contact burn wounds of increasing severity were created in a porcine model. Wounds were assessed for 4 days with an IR camera and MPAS-6. In addition, each day, the burn wounds were biopsied for histological analysis to determine burn depth for correlation with noninvasive measures. Surface temperatures decreased with increasing burn severity, which was associated with increasing transepidermal evaporative water loss. Melanin content correlated with the depth of collagen coagulation and was bimodal, with superficial and full-thickness burns having higher values than deep partial thickness wounds. Erythema content was highest in superficial burns and negatively correlated with necrosis (high-mobility group box protein 1 expression). Importantly, surface temperature taken on every single day after injury was predictive of all histologically determined measurements of burn depth (ie, collagen coagulation, apoptosis, necrosis, vascular occlusion). The results indicate that IR imaging and skin quality probes can be used to support the diagnosis of burn severity. Most importantly, IR measurements gave insight into both the zone of coagulation and the zone of stasis on every postburn day studied.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e180-e191
JournalJournal of Burn Care and Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


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