As the largest burn center in America, the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital is a forerunner in the latest research and treatment techniques for patients with severe burns.   Recently, a JMS physician, Dr. Richard Cartie, had his research published detailing a new treatment method that could revolutionize the way patients heal from their burn injuries.

“We know that therapeutic hypothermia has proven to be beneficial in many treatment methods for things such as cardiac arrest, stroke, and spinal cord injury.  We thought, it was time to try it for burns too,” says Richard Cartie, Pediatric Intensivist at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center and co-author of the new study.

What the 2-year study found:

Therapeutic hypothermia, reducing the patient’s body temperature, can reduce inflammation and decrease burn depth progression.

Methods used for the study:    

Test rats were given second-degree burns on 15% of their body surface area.  At that point, Dr. Cartie and his research partner, Dr. Julie Rizzo of Eisenhower Medical Center, applied a cooling agent to emulate the use of a cooling blanket on a human.  They continued to biopsy the wounds as they healed, revealing that the cooling agent did in fact delay the burn progression, therefore decreasing the healing time.

Why does this type of treatment work?

Second degree burns possess the unique ability to either spontaneously heal or progress deeper into the skin.  The use of a cooling blanket on the wound, thereby putting the patient in a hypothermic state, can help limit ongoing cellular injury.

“This method has been tested in the past with several patients, but never used as a routine way of healing burns,” says Dr. Cartie.  “As this is applied to patients, we hope that this will enhance the overall care of treating burn patients around the world,” Dr. Cartie said.