The Universal Challenge

Donald P. Dressler, MD
Arch Surg. 1971;103(4):434. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1971.01350100028005.
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While relatively few surgeons specialize in thermal injuries, rare is the surgeon who, at some time during his training or practice, has not been intrigued by a facet of the burned patient. Just what there is about thermal injury that makes its challenge so universal is often questioned. The actual number of deaths from burns is small in comparison to arteriosclerosis, and is even less than those due to other diseases such as cystic fibrosis of the pancreas, multiple sclerosis, or cirrhosis. The scientific mystery is certainly not as challenging as cancer, nor does burn research possess the Orwellian fascination inherent in the artificial organ and transplantation programs. It appears that the primary reason for the wide interest in the burned patient is in fact its universal challenge.

From the obvious problems of resuscitation, shock, sepsis and plastic reconstruction to the less obvious, but equally important, problems of preventive medicine,


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