n South African Journal of Surgery - Clinical profile of assault burn victims : a 16-year review : general surgery

Volume 49, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0038-2361
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5151



Assaults by burning occur infrequently and are related to the social circumstances and demographics of each population. We aimed to explore the mechanisms, complications, morbidity and mortality associated with assault burn injuries admitted to the Burns Intensive Care Unit of Merheim University Hospital in Cologne.

A retrospective data analysis of a consecutive series of 1 243 burn patients between 1989 and 2004. The cohort was divided into two groups: AG (assault group) and CG (control group). Analyses were controlled for clinical data, treatment and outcome of all patients involved.
Forty-one patients with assault burn injuries were identified during the study period. Compared with the general burn population (CG), the AG had a significantly larger size of third-degree burns (=0.047), a higher incidence of inhalation injury (<0.001) and a longer intubation period (=0.047). Patients in the AG were also more likely to undergo escharotomy (=0.013) and to receive antibiotics on admission (=0.016). The mortality rate was higher in the AG than in the CG (26.8% v. 19.9%), but this difference was not significant.
Burned patients who were victims of assault tend to have more severe injuries than the general burn population. These injuries are not only physical, and their management requires a multidisciplinary approach to improve outcome.

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