Background: Major burns are life threatening. Fluid resuscitation is required for survival to maintain intravascular volumes and prevent hypovolemic shock. Bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS) has been recognised as a potential method of monitoring fluid shifts after burn and in other disease states. The aims of this study were to examine the reliability of BIS across different dressing conditions and electrode positions, establish the influence of Acticoat™ on BIS variable measures and determine the validity of whole-body BIS to assess net fluid shift in the presence of moderate to major burns.

Methods: An observational longitudinal cohort study was conducted from December 2014 to February 2016. Patients with over 15% total body surface area (TBSA) burns and injury less than 48 h were enrolled in the study. BIS triplicate measures were collected in an open wound and with an ActicoatTM dressing (at 5 half hour intervals). Standard and alternate electrode placements were utilised for the reliability analysis and standard placement only for determining the validity of BIS in moderate to major burns. The ImpediMde SFB7 was used to collect wholebody and segmental BIS measures. Stata statistical software, release 14 was utilised to analyse all results. Descriptive analyses were performed and were reported using the means and standard deviations (SD).

Results: BIS-repeated measures established BIS raw resistance (R), and predicted volume variables were reliable in any condition (intra-class correlation coefficient (ICC) 0.996–0.999, 95% confidence intervals (CI) 0.996–0.999) without a systematic difference. Acticoat™ dressings significantly influenced all BIS-predicted volumes (p ≤ 0.01) as determined by multilevel mixed effects (MLME) linear regression analysis. Validity of BIS was demonstrated by resistance variables significantly decreasing with increasing net ionic fluid shift and increased TBSA (severity of injury) and calculated fluid volumes increasing with increasing net fluid shift and TBSA. BIS resistance also decreased with time as oedema reduced. For clinical use, a calculator was developed to adjust BIS variables when an Acticoat™ dressing is in situ, thus facilitating BIS variable change estimates in real time, with dressings intact.

Conclusion: BIS may be used clinically to monitor fluid volume change in major acute burns.


bioelectrical impedance, oedema, wounds, fluid resuscitation, dressings

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