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BACKGROUND: Burn injuries are the fourth most common traumatic injury, causing an estimated 180,000 deaths annually worldwide. Superficial burns can be managed with dressings alone, but deeper burns or those that fail to heal promptly are usually treated surgically. Acute burns surgery aims to debride burnt skin until healthy tissue is reached, at which point skin grafts or temporising dressings are applied. Conventional debridement is performed with an angled blade, tangentially shaving burned tissue until healthy tissue is encountered. Hydrosurgery, an alternative to conventional blade debridement, simultaneously debrides, irrigates, and removes tissue with the aim of minimising damage to uninjured tissue. Despite the increasing use of hydrosurgery, its efficacy and the risk of adverse events following surgery for burns is unclear. OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of hydrosurgical debridement and skin grafting versus conventional surgical debridement and skin grafting for the treatment of acute partial-thickness burns. SEARCH METHODS: In December 2019 we searched the Cochrane Wounds Specialised Register; the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL); Ovid MEDLINE (including In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations); Ovid Embase and EBSCO CINAHL Plus. We also searched clinical trials registries for ongoing and unpublished studies, and scanned reference lists of relevant included studies as well as reviews, meta-analyses and health technology reports to identify additional studies. There were no restrictions with respect to language, date of publication or study setting. SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that enrolled people of any age with acute partial-thickness burn injury and assessed the use of hydrosurgery. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors independently performed study selection, data extraction, 'Risk of bias' assessment, and GRADE assessment of the certainty of the evidence. MAIN RESULTS: One RCT met the inclusion criteria of this review. The study sample size was 61 paediatric participants with acute partial-thickness burns of 3% to 4% total burn surface area. Participants were randomised to hydrosurgery or conventional debridement. There may be little or no difference in mean time to complete healing (mean difference (MD) 0.00 days, 95% confidence interval (CI) -6.25 to 6.25) or postoperative infection risk (risk ratio 1.33, 95% CI 0.57 to 3.11). These results are based on very low-certainty evidence, which was downgraded twice for risk of bias, once for indirectness, and once for imprecision. There may be little or no difference in operative time between hydrosurgery and conventional debridement (MD 0.2 minutes, 95% CI -12.2 to 12.6); again, the certainty of the evidence is very low, downgraded once for risk of bias, once for indirectness, and once for imprecision. There may be little or no difference in scar outcomes at six months. Health-related quality of life, resource use, and other adverse outcomes were not reported. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: This review contains one randomised trial of hydrosurgery versus conventional debridement in a paediatric population with low percentage of total body surface area burn injuries. Based on the available trial data, there may be little or no difference between hydrosurgery and conventional debridement in terms of time to complete healing, postoperative infection, operative time, and scar outcomes at six months. These results are based on very low-certainty evidence. Further research evaluating these outcomes as well as health-related quality of life, resource use, and other adverse event outcomes is required.

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Journal article


Cochrane database syst rev

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Bias, Burns, Child, Debridement, Humans, Hydrotherapy, Operative Time, Skin Transplantation, Surgical Wound Infection, Therapeutic Irrigation, Time Factors, Wound Healing