Randomized clinical trial of negative pressure wound therapy as an adjunctive treatment for small-area thermal burns in children.

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The efficacy of negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) in the acute management of burns remains unclear. The purpose of this trial was to compare standard Acticoat™ and Mepitel™ dressings with combined Acticoat™, Mepitel™ and continuous NPWT to determine the effect of adjunctive NPWT on re-epithelialization in paediatric burns.This two-arm, single-centre RCT recruited children with acute thermal burns covering less than 5 per cent of their total body surface area. The primary outcome was time to re-epithelialization. Blinded assessments were performed using photographs captured every 3-5 days until discharge. Secondary measures included pain, itch, grafting, perfusion and scar management referrals.Some 114 patients were randomized. Median time to re-epithelialization was 8 (i.q.r. 7-11) days in the NPWT group and 10 (8-14) days in the control group. In a multivariable model, NPWT decreased the expected time to wound closure by 22 (95 per cent c.i. 7 to 34) per cent (P = 0·005). The risk of referral to scar management was reduced by 60 (18 to 81) per cent (P = 0·013). Four participants in the control group and one in the NPWT group underwent grafting. There were no statistically significant differences between groups in pain, itch or laser Doppler measures of perfusion. Adverse events were rare and minor, although NPWT carried a moderate treatment burden, with ten patients discontinuing early.Adjunctive NPWT hastened re-epithelialization in small-area burn injuries in children, but had a greater treatment burden than standard dressings alone. Registration number: ACTRN12618000256279 ( http://ANZCTR.org.au).

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