In burn medicine, the percentage of the burned body surface area (TBSA-B) to the total body surface area (TBSA) is a crucial parameter to ensure adequate treatment and therapy. Inaccurate estimations of the burn extent can lead to wrong medical decisions resulting in considerable consequences for patients. These include, for instance, over-resuscitation, complications due to fluid aggregation from burn edema, or non-optimal distribution of patients. Due to the frequent inaccurate TBSA-B estimation in practice, objective methods allowing for precise assessments are required. Over time, various methods have been established whose development has been influenced by contemporary technical standards. This article provides an overview of the history of burn size estimation and describes existing methods with a critical view of their benefits and limitations. Traditional methods that are still of great practical relevance were developed from the middle of the 20th century. These include the “Lund Browder Chart”, the “Rule of Nines”, and the “Rule of Palms”. These methods have in common that they assume specific values for different body parts’ surface as a proportion of the TBSA. Due to the missing consideration of differences regarding sex, age, weight, height, and body shape, these methods have practical limitations. Due to intensive medical research, it has been possible to develop three-dimensional computer-based systems that consider patients’ body characteristics and allow a very realistic burn size assessment. To ensure high-quality burn treatment, comprehensive documentation of the treatment process, and wound healing is essential. Although traditional paper-based documentation is still used in practice, it no longer meets modern requirements. Instead, adequate documentation is ensured by electronic documentation systems. An illustrative software already being used worldwide is “BurnCase 3D”. It allows for an accurate burn size assessment and a complete medical documentation.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited