Burn laboratory findings

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Eman Alademi, M.D.[2]


There are no specific diagnostic laboratory findings associated with burn injury. However, laboratory findings are done to the estemate the severty of the burn and the symptoms. These include CBC analysis like increase WBC for infection and inflammation , RBC decrease due to truma of the burn, high hematocrit, becouse of lost a lot of fluid from leaky blood vessels. BUN reflects kidney damage, decrease total Protein, albumin, and globulin values (proteins have been lost through damaged blood vessels).

Burn laboratory findings

Most nutrition laboratory testing relies on serum concentrations of ingested nutrients, their coenzymes, proteins, or lipids. Alternatively, functional tests measure a specific physiological process or biochemical reaction. We compared these two approaches to nutritional assessment in intensive-care burn patients, in whom the serum concentrations of transthyretin (prealbumin), albumin, transferrin, carotene, retinol, ascorbic acid, copper, cholesterol, iron, and calcium were all below established reference ranges. In contrast, serum triglyceride concentrations were often above the reference range. Functional tests for thiamin, riboflavin, pyridoxine, and iron (by zinc protoporphyrin/heme ratio) in these patients all showed normal values. Dietary intake, weight trends, and nitrogen balances all indicated that these patients' estimated caloric and protein needs had been met. These findings suggest that static measurements of serum concentrations may be unreliable indicators of nutritional status in burn patients.[1]

Basic laboratory tests include the following:

  • Sputum Culture and Sensitivity


  • The hematocrit (Hct) is the percentage of of the volume of the whole blood that is made up of red blood cells. In burns, the patient has lost a lot of fluid from leaky blood vessels (see Systemic Effects of Burns in the Case Study Workbook). There are more red cells than fluid so the hematocrit is high. You can think about this if you make up a packet of Kool Aid. If you dilute the Kool Aid with 2 qts of water, it tastes about right; it's normal. If I dilute the Kool Aid with 1 cup of water, it's very concentrated. Think of the hematocrit as describing how concentrated the Kool Aid is, only in this case we're talking about how concentrated the blood is. If there's not a lot of fluid in the vessels, the blood is very concentrated. The hematocrit goes up.

Chemistry Panel

  • The glucose value is elevated. The body is under extreme stress. Glucose stores are released from the liver and new glucose is made. This extra glucose is needed as energy for the body to heal.


  1. Heimbach, D M; Labbé, R F; Williamson, J C; Rettmer, R L (1992). "Laboratory Monitoring of Nutritional Status in Burn Patients". Clinical Chemistry. 38 (3): 334–337. doi:10.1093/clinchem/38.3.334. ISSN 0009-9147.
  2. Graciano AL, Tamburro R, Thompson AE, Fiadjoe J, Nadkarni VM, Nishisaki A (2014). "Incidence and associated factors of difficult tracheal intubations in pediatric ICUs: a report from National Emergency Airway Registry for Children: NEAR4KIDS". Intensive Care Med. 40 (11): 1659–69. doi:10.1007/s00134-014-3407-4. PMID 25160031.
  3. "Treatment of burns in the first 24 hours: simple and practical guide by answering 10 questions in a step-by-step form".

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