Pediatric Burn Treatment
Burns that are severe or are located in sensitive areas of a child’s body require specialized treatment.
Treatment of a pediatric burn injury begins by cleaning the skin and applying medicine and dressings over the burn(s). After the medical evaluation, cleaning and dressing of the wounds is completed, the patient is moved to a room. The medical team’s immediate concerns are controlling physical dangers, starting intravenous lines to replace lost fluids and providing actual wound care. Burn patients require special treatment to replace bodily fluids and are very susceptible to infections. Additional care is needed to prevent the permanent scarring, deformity and dysfunction that severe burn injuries can cause.
All pediatric burn patients are cared for by a staff that can include physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, social workers, psychologists and recreational therapists specializing in burn treatment and recovery. In addition, patient representatives, dietitians and child life specialists are available to assist patients and their families. Integrative medicine services are also available.
Some of the treatments pediatric burn patients can receive include:
When the skin is burned, bodily fluids seep out. These lost fluids must be replaced. With large burns, the fluids are replaced with an IV. The infusion pump machine feeds the replacement fluids into the body in carefully controlled amounts. For smaller burns, fluids may be replaced by drinking.
Edema is swelling. Swelling may only occur around the burned area or it may be systemic, in which it occurs over the entire body. The larger the burn, the greater the swelling will be. Chances are that the first time you see your loved one after they have been burned, swelling will be present. The swelling can distort features to the point that you may no longer recognize them. This swelling should begin to lessen after a few days.
It may be necessary to assist the patient’s breathing. This can be done with a simple mask supplying oxygen or through a tube. Intubation is the insertion of a tube directly into the windpipe through the patient’s mouth or nose. The patient can breathe through this tube but will not be able to speak because the tube is below the vocal cords. If necessary, a ventilator can be attached to the tube to further assist breathing.
A child who has sustained a burn requires an increased number of calories as their body’s metabolic rate goes into overdrive. The metabolism speeds up to compensate for the burn injury and to begin the healing process. A feeding tube may be inserted through the nose and into the stomach. Liquid food is fed to the stomach around the clock.
Foley Catheter Insertion
The Foley catheter is used to help patients urinate. A small rubber tube is inserted into the bladder, and a small balloon is inflated with sterile water to keep the catheter in place. The catheter drains the fluid from the bladder into a bag that hangs on the bed. The bag is monitored to determine how much urine is being produced, which helps the doctor determine if more or less fluid should be given to the patient.
A pediatric burn patient may get a lot of X-rays. X-rays check the placement of the various tubes, such as the feeding tube, to make sure they are located where they need to be. An intubated patient usually gets daily X-rays of their lungs to watch for signs of infection and pneumonia.
Skin grafting is a surgical procedure during which skin is moved from one area of the body to another that has sustained a burn. There are several types of skin grafts:
Allograft – Allograft, or cadaver skin, is used as a temporary biological dressing over a cleansed (excised) wound. These are held in place with surgical staples.
Autograft - Autograft is the skin taken from an unburned area of the burn patient. It is a permanent replacement.
What to Expect After Pediatric Burn Treatment
After receiving inpatient treatment in a burn center, pediatric patients may continue with rehabilitation services on an outpatient basis. Occupational therapists will develop an individualized treatment plan to meet the specific needs of each child. Customized pressure therapy garments are also available.
Once discharged, our pediatric patients are invited to attend Camp Hopetáke, a week-long summer camp for children who have survived burn injuries.
At Tampa General Hospital, burn care for children is our top priority. We are one of just five burn centers in Florida to have earned Verification by the American Burn Association/American College of Surgeons and one of only two ABA-verified adult and pediatric burn centers in Florida. Our commitment to care ensures the best outcomes for our pediatric burn patients, regardless of the severity of their burns.