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Escharotomy Defined

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Updated June 11, 2014

Definition: An escharotomy is a surgical procedure performed to allow greater circulation to a part of the body. A severe injury, such as a burn, can cause skin and tissue to swell so much that blood no longer flows easily past the injury.

For example, a severe burn on the upper arm can cause the skin and tissue to become so tight that the hand does not get the blood flow it should.

To prevent damage to the tissues that are not getting enough blood, surgical incisions are made along the damaged area, which releases the pressure of the swollen tissues and allows blood flow to resume. Because of the swelling of the damaged tissue, the surgical incisions may spread open, showing the tissues and structures beneath the skin.

Any open wound has a risk of infection so the area may be covered in sterile bandages.

Related Surgery Information: Incision Care Made Easy

Also Known As: fasciotomy
Alternate Spellings: esharotomy,
Examples:
An escharotomy was performed after the patient's hand became pale and was cool to the touch, a sign of too little blood flow.
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