Handheld Indirect Calorimetry in the Burns Unit: a feasibility study

Ms Caroline Nicholls1, Mrs Cheryl Brownlow1, Dr Nicola Clayton1,2,3, Ms Christine Parker1, Prof Peter Maitz1,3

1Concord General Repatriation Hospital, Concord, Australia, 2University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia, 3University of Sydney, Camperdown, Australia



Given the limitations of existing predictive equations, indirect calorimetry (IC) is considered the gold standard for assessing energy requirements following burn injury. Historically, the equipment has been cumbersome, costly and requires time for calibration, warm up and cleaning. More recently, handheld bedside units have become available making these assessments more accessible and efficient. This study aims to investigate the efficacy of implementing regular use of the handheld calorimeter (FitMate®) into regular dietetic practice in the Burns Unit and how the results compare with the predictive equations currently in use.


As part of an on-going study, the FitMate® will be used to measure energy requirements for all patients ≥75 years. All patients ≥18 years with burn injuries ≥10%TBSA will also be added to the cohort. The IC will be run with the aim for 10 mins of steady state (defined as less than 10% coefficient of variation in VO2).

FitMate® results will then be compared with the current practice of predictive equations. Staff and patients will be surveyed regarding their perceptions of the FitMate® test, specifically the time taken, patient comfort during the IC and their willingness to repeat the test. Any barriers to IC will be recorded and explored.

Results and Conclusions:

Preliminary results indicate that clinical application of the FitMate® is a feasible tool to assess energy requirements and potentially enhance individualised nutrition care for patients following burn injury. Further detailed analysis will be explored and discussed.


Caroline Nicholls has worked as a clinical dietitian for over 20 years and has an interest in nutrition support. She has been the dietitian at the Concord Hospital Burns unit since 2003 and was involved in establishing the Australasian Burns Nutrition Interest Group.  She was an author of the Nutritional Management chapter of the Burn Trauma Rehabilitation: Allied Health Practice Guidelines, a collaboration between the Australian & New Zealand Burn Association and Joanna Briggs Institute.


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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