Escharotomy is a procedure doctors perform on burn patients suffering from severe edema resulting from full-thickness, or third-degree burns. Doctors perform escharotomy when the severity of burns produces edema that limits circulation to the traumatized area.
The skin of a third degree burn becomes very rigid and hard, and loses its elasticity. As the patient becomes rehydrated with fluids, the burned tissue swells and become tighter. As a result of the pressure from the swelling, the patient’s circulation in the area becomes compromised.
During an escharotomy, a physician uses a scalpel to make incisions along the skin that allows the tissue to expand and decreases pressure on the underlying structures. Due to the tension in the skin the swelling causes, the skin spreads far apart after the incision. An escharotomy is successful when it restores circulation to the burned area of the body.
Clinicians take the proper precautions to control bleeding and infection after an escharotomy. The escharotomy site is covering in dressings that control bleeding and exudates, such as calcium alginates.
A surgeon may perform a chest escharotomy in the event of swelling that prevents the chest cavity from properly expanding.
Last updated: 19-May-04