The prevention and therapy of corneal ulcers in patients with large-area thermal burns.
Summary: This case series describes patients with corneal ulcers with thermal burns treated with surgery and skin grafting.
Conclusion: In patients with corneal ulcers with thermal burns treatment with surgery and skin grafting can be effective.
Objective: To evaluate the characteristics of ocular injury in patients with severe extensive thermal burns, and to explore the effective methods to prevent and treat corneal ulcers related to severe burns.
Methods: A retrospective case series study. Between 2010 and 2019, Sixteen severe thermal burn patients with burn sizes>70% of the total body surface area involving the ocular region were admitted to the Burns and Plastic Surgery Division of Chinese PLA General Hospital, and consult with Ophthalmology Division. There were deep second-degree to fourth-degree burns in the eyelids. In the eleven surviving patients, 22 eyes presented ectropion. Eyelid full-thickness skin grafting (EFTSG) combined with or without tarsorrhaphy was performed in 20 eyes due to severe corneal exposure. Two eyes received partial blepharorrhaphy because of mild ectropion. The ocular manifestations and treatment outcomes were reviewed and assessed.
Results: The majority of the patients were youth, and the average age was (36.8±10.4) years. The burn area was 84.0%±9.1% of the body surface area. Corneal ulcers secondary to lagophthalmos occurred at (35.1±15.6) days after burning in 75% (24/32) of eyes. Perforation was found in 18.8% (6/32) of eyes. Among the 22 operated eyes, the corneal ulcer was repaired in all 9 eyes receiving EFTSG with tarsorrhaphy, whereas ectropion recurred in 8 of 11 eyes only receiving EFTSG, and 4 eyes underwent further surgery due to corneal epithelial defects.
Conclusions: In patients with severe large-area thermal burns, corneal ulcers are common complications. Prevention of corneal exposure is vital because the treatment of corneal ulceration is difficult due to eyelid deformity, inflammation and the absence of donor skin. Timely full-thickness skin grafting and blepharorrhaphy are effective approaches to preventing exposure keratopathy. To severe ulcers occur, conjunctival flap or Tenon's capsule covering combined with eyelid EFTSG and tarsorrhaphy is useful to rescue visual function.