What is an escharotomy?

An escharotomy is an incision made completely through the depth of the burn “eschar” that usually occurs within the first day of the injury. The eschar is necrotic skin that has a leathery consistency as a result of the burn injury.

If there is a circumferential burn (partial or full), the tissues next to the burn eschar are at risk of edema and permanent functional impairment. If untreated, sometimes the part of the body next to the burn eschar has to be amputated and nerve and muscle death may occur.

The escharotomy or incision through the eschar serves to release the constricting tissue and allows the nerves, muscles, and organs to function as normal. Usually several incisions are required to release the constricting tissue. This procedure is usually done while the patient is sedated but not under general anesthesia.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.