Burn injury in the morbidly obese: changes and challenges

Dr Kieran Robinson1, Dr Helen Douglas1, Dr Anna Goodwin-Walters1

1State Adult Burns Unit, Fiona Stanley Hospital, Perth, Australia


Background:The management of burns in the morbidly obese patient poses complex challenges for the burns team. This is becoming increasingly relevant as the prevalence of obesity continues to rise in Australia and the developed world. The optimal management of these patients is more difficult at all stages in their care; from burn assessment and resuscitation, ICU management and surgery through to recovery and rehabilitation.

Methods:We conducted a review of the literature for articles concerning burn injury in obese patients and report the results along with the presentation of two cases managed at the State Adult Burns Unit in Western Australia, where obesity presented specific management issues for us as a service.

Results:The results of the literature search revealed relatively few studies regarding the experience and management of burn injuries in the morbidly obese.

Discussion:Obesity is increasing in our population at an alarming rate and is a huge public health issue for Australia. Awareness and anticipation of some of the specific challenges which exist when managing morbidly obese patients with burn injuries is useful to any burns team. Specific pitfalls and problems encountered and measures taken to rectify them are presented.


RMO in the State Adult Burns Unit at Fiona Stanley Hospital, Western Australia


ANZBA is a not for profit organisation and the peak body for health professionals responsible for the care of the burn injured in Australia and New Zealand. ANZBA encourages higher standards of care through education, performance monitoring and research.

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