Rapid Evaporative Ionisation- Mass Spectrometry (REIMS) may provide a real-time dataset to support more accurate surgical debridement

Mr Andrew Yau1, Dr Mark Fear1,2, Dr Fiona Wood1,2,3, Dr Elaine Holmes4, Dr Jeremy Nicholson4, Dr Lukey Whiley4

1Burn Injury Research Unit, Perth, Australia, 2Fiona Wood Foundation, Perth, Australia, 3Burns Service WA, Perth, Australia, 4Australian National Phenome Centre, Perth, Australia


Surgical debridement is a necessary procedure for burns patients that require the removal of eschar. However, inaccuracies in the debridement process can exacerbate complications including scarring and infection. Both of these outcomes could be limited through the development of an objective real-time measure to enable a more accurate surgical procedure. Rapid Evaporative Ionisation- Mass Spectrometry (REIMS) allows real-time collection of mass spectrometry data from the ‘smoke’ generated during cutting tissue.

In this study the metabolic profiles of normal skin and debrided tissue were investigated using Liquid Chromatography- (LCMS) and REIMS. The LCMS system aimed to target lipid classes to identify differences that may exist between the tissue types and was used to guide the REIMS to determine its effectiveness at providing real-time data to assist with debridement. LCMS tissue was prepared using scalpel homogenisation and solubilisation in Isopropyl alcohol. For REIMS, 8 second long burns were performed on each sample with an 8 second rest period between each burn for a 2 minute acquisition window. Significant differences in the Free fatty acid (FFA) content and in individual lipids were identified in debrided tissue compared to normal skin using LCMS. REIMS was also able to differentiate debrided and normal tissue, suggesting this may be an effective tool for tissue debridement. Further work  is required to characterise the compounds of interest and to optimise the use of REIMS for surgical debridement.


Andrew graduated with a BSc in Medical Science in 2019 and began a PhD with the Burns Injury Research Unit following an honours degree in 2020 under the organisation

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