Research Article

Management of airway complications of burns in children.

Br Med J 1977; 2 doi: (Published 03 December 1977) Cite this as: Br Med J 1977;2:1462
  1. E Vivori,
  2. R E Cudmore


    Children who have been exposed to smoke in a confined space or who have soot or burns, however minimal, on the face should be admitted to hospital. Respiratory distress may be delayed, but if it is progressive the patient should be curarised, intubated, and mechanically ventilated. Unless ventilation continues for 48 hours, followed by 24 hours' spontaneous respiration against a positive airway pressure, stridor and pulmonary oedema may recur. An endotracheal tube small enough to allow a leak between it and the oedematous mucosa must be passed to prevent laryngeal damage and subsequent subglottic stenosis. High humidity of inspired gases keeps secretions fluid and the endotracheal tube patent. A high oxygen concentration compensates for deficient oxygen uptake and transport caused by pulmonary lesions and the presence of poisonous compounds interfering with oxygen transport. Dexamethasone to minimise cerebral oedema and antibiotics to reduce the incidence of chest infections should be given.