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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 25  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 26-32

A simple mortality prognostic scoring system for burns

Plastic Surgery Unit, Department of Surgery, N.S.C.B. Government Medical College, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, India

Date of Web Publication13-Dec-2017

Correspondence Address:
Dr Pawan Agarwal
292/293 Napier Town, Jabalpur 482001, Madhya Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijb.ijb_26_17

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Background: Several complex prognostic scoring systems are available for burn patients incorporating sophisticated investigations and use of global scales involved in the management of patients in intensive care unit. We constructed and validated a simplified scoring system for burn patients, which can be easily used in developing countries.
Materials and Methods: One hundred and eighty-two consecutive patients with burns undergoing treatment at a teaching hospital in Central India were studied prospectively. Multiple logistic regressions were used to assess the predictive power of each prognostic variable. A simple scoring system was constructed using the four most powerful, but easy to calculate, prognostic factors. This system was then prospectively validated in the next 122 consecutive patients.
Results: On multivariate analysis, total body surface area, percentage full thickness burn area, presence of inhalation burn, and serum creatinine were found significant predictors of mortality. Score was constructed using logit model using these four factors, which ranged from 4 to 20. Score correlated well with mortality; which increased with rising score. The mean score in survivors was significantly less than that in non-survivors (9.44 vs. 15.75; P < 0.0001). Cut off value of score ≥12 was associated with significantly higher mortality. The predicted and observed outcomes matched well.
Conclusion: The Jabalpur prognostic scoring system for burns is effective for prognostication in selected group of patients with burn injuries. It is simple and user-friendly because it uses only four routinely documented clinical risk factors.

Keywords: Jabalpur scoring system, mortality, prognosis, risk stratification, thermal burn

How to cite this article:
Agarwal P, Adalti S, Agrawal V, Sharma D. A simple mortality prognostic scoring system for burns. Indian J Burns 2017;25:26-32

How to cite this URL:
Agarwal P, Adalti S, Agrawal V, Sharma D. A simple mortality prognostic scoring system for burns. Indian J Burns [serial online] 2017 [cited 2023 Feb 4];25:26-32. Available from: https://www.ijburns.com/text.asp?2017/25/1/26/220656

  Introduction Top

Many prognostic scoring systems are available for burn patients. These scoring systems allow stratification of patients according to severity, help in identification of patients at high risk and provide prognostic information. These range from simple rule of the thumb to those incorporating more sophisticated investigations and use of global scales involved in the management of patients in intensive care unit (ICU).[1],[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8] ICU care and sophisticated investigations may not be available for most burn patients due to infra-structural constraints in developing countries. Additionally, any scoring system aspiring to predict risks must take into consideration geographical variations, including treatment facilities, inherent in a cohort of patients.[9] We, therefore, felt the need for a simple prognostic scoring system, which can be used easily in developing countries.

  Material and methods Top

This prospective study was conducted in a plastic surgery unit, in a government medical college in Central India. Ethical approval from the Institutional Review Board (No. IEC/2010/11) was obtained.

This study included 304 thermal burn patients over a period of 3 years. First 182 patients seen over first 2 years were prospectively studied to analyze risk factors for mortality and to develop the prognostic scoring system (called developing group). The next 122 patients seen over the next year were used for prospectively validating the score (called validating group).

All thermal burn patients presenting within 24 h after burn were included in the study. Patients excluded from the present study were those with chemical or electric burn, those presenting to our hospital after 24 h of burn, patients transferred from elsewhere for acute care and those with thermal burn with associated trauma. The end point of the study was death or discharge of the patients.

At the time of admission, patient’s relevant data such as age, history of ignition of clothes, heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature and associated co-morbid illnesses such as diabetes mellitus were noted. Blood samples for laboratory investigation were sent prior to the start of treatment for hematocrit, white blood cells (WBC) count, blood urea, serum electrolytes, and serum creatinine. At the time of admission, the total body surface area (TBSA) of burn was calculated using “rule of nine” in adults and with the help of “Lund and Browder chart” in children. Site and depth of burn were assessed by surface characteristics. Inhalation burn was diagnosed clinically if there was a history of burn sustained in closed space, the presence of facial burn, burnt nasal vibrissae, exposure to heavy smoke, presence of carbonaceous sputum, respiratory strider, hoarseness of the voice and tachypnoea rhonchi, rales, wheeze, and the use of accessory muscles of respiration. Bronchoscopy and Xenon 133 lung scan were not taken due to non-availability. The initial assessment was performed, and subsequent burn treatment was taken by using American Burn Association Practice Guidelines Burn Shock Resuscitation.[10]

All the burns including major burns were resuscitated using ringer lactate solution 3 ml/kg/% of burn. Burn wound was treated with 1% topical silver sulphadiazine and systemic antibiotics when indicated according to culture and sensitivity report. Urine output was recorded after 24 h. Wound care included hydrotherapy, de-sloughing, escharectomies and debridement. Nutritional support included daily intake of protein and calories according to the basal energy expenditure. Inhalation injury was treated by nasal oxygen, bronchodilators and mucolytic agents. None of our patients received ventilatory support due to non-availability of burns ICU, and none underwent early excision and skin grafting.

The predictive factors considered for developing the score were TBSA, total full thickness burn (FTB), clothes ignition, high-risk site of burn (presence of head, neck, and perineal burns), temperature, age, associated comorbidity, Glasgow coma scale, inhalation burn, respiratory rate, urine output after 24 h, blood urea, serum creatinine, serum electrolytes, heart rate, hematocrit and WBC count. The developing data was analyzed using univariate and subsequently multivariate analyses for the identification of predictive factors of mortality. Using logistic regression analysis and the logit model approach of predictive score estimation; factor values (ranging 1–5) were assigned to these four predictive factors and the Jabalpur prognostic score for burn (JPS-B) was developed [Table 1]. JPS-B ranged from 4 to 20. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was used to calculate accuracy and cutoff value of score. The statistical analysis was performed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences version 22.0 software (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, United States) and Medcalc, Ostend, Belgium (online free trial version).
Table 1: Jabalpur prognostic score for burns (JPS-B)

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  Results Top

On univariate analysis of developing data, following factors were found statistically significant: TBSA (P = 0.0002), FTB (P = 0.00025), ignition of clothes (P = 0.0012), site of burn (P = 0.0013), age (P = 0.0014), sex (P = 0.0017), serum creatinine (P = 0.00012), inhalation burn (P = 0.00001), associated conditions (P = 0.00012) and urine output (P = 0.0012) and were significantly associated with mortality. However, multivariate analysis on same data revealed four statistically significant variables predicting the mortality, that is, TBSA (P = 0.00016), FTB (P = 0.00011), inhalation burn (P = 0.00056) and serum creatinine (P = 0.00010). A cutoff score of ≥12 was identified using ROC analysis which suggested a score value above which significant increase in mortality was observed. The sensitivity was 85.23%, specificity was 91.49% and accuracy was 95% [area under the curve (AUC) 0.95; standard error (SE) ±0.0144; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.908–0.977; P < 0.0001; [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Receiver operative characteristic curve for developing group

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The validation group (122 patients) was analyzed for statistical validation of Jabalpur burn score (JBS) with respect to score’s accuracy to predict mortality.

The distribution of various predictive factors in two groups is shown in [Table 2]. Presence of FTB%, inhalation burn, % ignition of clothes, high-risk site of burn, and associated comorbidity was significantly higher in the validation group (P < 0.05). This reflected in higher mortality in the validation group (62.29% as against 48.35%), as well as higher mortality seen in subgroup 2 [Table 3] and [Figure 2]. It was observed that the mortality increased with increasing scores [Table 3], [Figure 2].
Table 2: Comparison of predictive factors in developing and validation groups

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Table 3: Correlation of JPS-B with mortality in the developing and validation groups

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Figure 2: Validation of JPS-B

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The statistical significance of identified predictive factors and cut-off score value ≥12 was again proven when analysis of validation group was performed and compared with data of developing group [Table 4]. It was found that all four predictive factors were significantly higher (P < 0.0001) in non-survivors, in both the groups.
Table 4: Outcome correlation with statistically identified predictive factors and JPS-B values in the developing and validation groups

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JPS-B performed well on prospective validation [Figure 2]. The calculated score ranged from 4 to 20 and correlated well with mortality in developing and validation groups (Spearman’s rho value of +0.81604 and +0.7705 respectively, both P = 0). The percentage of patients having score ≥12 was higher (P < 0.0001) in non-survivors in both groups. The mean score was significantly higher (P < 0.0001) in non-survivors in both groups. On ROC analysis, its sensitivity was 86.84%, specificity was 93.48%, and accuracy was 95.4% (AUC 0.954 ± 0.0182; 95%CI 0.901–0.984; P < 0.0001; [Figure 3]).
Figure 3: Receiver operative characteristic curve for validating group

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  Discussion Top

Prognostication, that is, the likely course of a medical condition, is an important part of the management of any disease process. That is why prognostic scoring systems available for burn patients serve a very important function: assessing the severity of condition and its likely course thereby allowing stratification of risk − numerically and scientifically. This confirms one of the basic tenets of science laid down by Lord Kelvin − If you cannot measure it, then it is not science; and you cannot improve it. All scoring systems − regardless of their field − use the most predictive factors to calculate and produce an expected likelihood of outcome for a given patient, although the relative weighting of these factors varies between scoring systems.[5],[6],[7],[8]

The credit for developing the first burn score goes to Weidenfeld, who in 1902 correlated TBSA and age with the mortality of his patient population. The prognostic powers of these two parameters were confirmed by the pioneering work of Bull and Squire in 1949 and later popularized by Baux in 1963 as “Baux score.”[1],[11] Baux score continues to provide a good indication of the risk of mortality.[12],[13],[14],[15]

Since the advent of Baux score, better understanding of pathophysiology of burn has taught the scientists the implications of FTB, inhalational injury and co-morbid illness associated with burn, and their additions have led to better prognostication models.[2],[3],[4]

Age, TBSA, FTB, inhalational injury, and co-morbid conditions are the major determinants of prognostication in burns. TBSA and FTB were the strongest prognostic factors in our study as well. The prognostic effects of age of patient and presence of co-morbid illness are easy to understand as they both affect the outcome in study of any disease and burn is no exception.[20],[21],[22]

However, contrary to other studies, age did not prove to be significant factor in our study. This can be explained as most of our patients were young, in the age group of 15–44 years; mean age of survivors was comparable to mean age of those who died in both developing and validation groups (28.38 ± 10.84 vs. 26.10 ± 8.55, P > 0.05 and 25.10 ± 11.11 vs. 27.23 ± 10.26, P > 0.05, respectively). This particular observation on age of our cohort also explains why pre-existing comorbidities were found in small percentage of patients in our study [Table 2].

Female gender has been shown as a risk factor for mortality by some authors,[2] but this was not seen in our study. 73.35% of our patients were females, because most burn injuries occur as kitchen accidents as flame burns, an observation which is consistent with epidemiological studies from India.[24]

Many studies have shown that the risk of mortality is increased by 400% if inhalational injury is present; as seen in the present study as well. Another significance of inhalation injuries lies in the fact that major strides have been made in burn care, but similar success has not been achieved with inhalation injuries.[25] Recently, need for mechanical ventilation has been identified as a risk factor for mortality in burns patients with inhalation injury.[26]

In addition, patients with inhalation injuries are exposed to 40–70% risk of infectious complications like pneumonia which is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in burn patients.[27]

Endoscopic criteria have been standardized to grade the mucosal injury but non-availability of bronchoscopy prevented us from more objectively noting this parameter.[28] Resource-constraints prevented us from analyzing inhalational burns more objectively with these endoscopic criteria.

Cause of mortality in most patients is sepsis induced multi-organ failure.[29] This calls for dynamic scoring of global scales (APACHE II, APACHE III, SAPS, etc.) in an ICU setting.[5],[6],[7]

These global scales, while delivering excellent prognostication, present significant logistic challenges in developing countries. Most government hospitals do not have burn ICUs/ventilatory support and are unable to perform expansive biochemical tests like blood gas analysis. This calls for simplifying scoring systems and surgical audit systems for use in developing countries with limited resources.[31],[32],[33],[34],[35]

Burn patients are prone to develop infections; prompting the rationale of use of inflammatory response/pre-sepsis/sepsis biomarkers like serum lactate, procalcitonin, plasma TNF-α, and interleukin 8/10, etc.[5],[6],[36] These can help in prognostication as they are found to be associated with burn injury severity. Presence of early systemic inflammatory response syndrome, and its biochemical clues have been recently shown to have adverse relationship with survival.[37] To reiterate, most government hospitals are unable to perform expansive assays of these biomarkers.

Methodological challenges in designing and validating scores that are applicable to a wide range of populations are well known.[38],[39]

Differences in patient sub-sets and standards of burn care in various places demand that any prognostic model is first validated before their application in a new population.[40] And this is the reason why independent/ different scoring systems – delivering good prognostication, discrimination and calibration − are needed for independent population and data sets to identify the ones best suited.[39],[41] This prompted us to fulfill our need by analyzing our patients’ data and developing JPS-B.

However, there are a few limitations of our study. Small numbers of patients have been studied, all of which were managed conservatively and extremes of age were not seen in our study. JPS-B, though applicable in similar patient population, may require validation/addition of extra factors before its application in a different population of patient sub-sets and standards of burn care. It is well known that all conventional disease severity scoring systems are better at predicting group mortality but are not so reliable in individuals and should not be used to make decisions to deny or terminate treatment in individuals.[42],[43]Additionally, physicians using such scoring systems should be alert for changes in the patient populations change and newer treatment modalities, which will require recalibration and updating of scoring system.[44]

Qualities of a good prognostic system are well known: it should be simple and inexpensive, routinely available, reliable (intra and inter-observer), objective (observer independent), specific to the function of the organ in question, therapy independent, sequential (available at admission and then at fixed periods of time), not affected by transient, reversible abnormalities associated with therapeutic or practical interventions, reflect acute dysfunction of the organ in question but not chronic dysfunction, reproducible in large, and heterogeneous groups of patients.[8],[45],[46]

In conclusion, JPS-B has most of these qualities and is a simple, accurate system for objectively estimating the probability of death in our burn unit using only four parameters which can be noted simply and objectively; the score can be calculated at bed side in the smallest hospital in similar age group of patients and with similar treatment modalities in a developing country, where burn-ICU facilities and sophisticated investigations are lacking.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]

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