A systematic review on the quality of measurement techniques for the assessment of burn wound depth or healing potential

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Purpose: Reliable and valid assessment of burn wound depth or healing potential is essential to treatment decision-making, to provide a prognosis, and to compare studies evaluating different treatment modalities. The aim of this review was to critically appraise, compare and summarize the quality of relevant measurement properties of techniques that aim to assess burn wound depth or healing potential. Methods: A systematic literature search was performed using PubMed, EMBASE and Cochrane Library. Two reviewers independently evaluated the methodological quality of included articles using an adapted version of the Consensus-based Standards for the selection of health Measurement INstruments (COSMIN) checklist. A synthesis of evidence was performed to rate the measurement properties for each technique and to draw an overall conclusion on quality of the techniques. Results: Thirty-six articles were included, evaluating various techniques, classified as (1) laser Doppler techniques; (2) thermography or thermal imaging; (3) other measurement techniques. Strong evidence was found for adequate construct validity of laser Doppler imaging (LDI). Moderate evidence was found for adequate construct validity of thermography, videomicroscopy, and spatial frequency domain imaging (SFDI). Only two studies reported on the measurement property reliability. Furthermore, considerable variation was observed among comparator instruments. Conclusions: Considering the evidence available, it appears that LDI is currently the most favorable technique; thereby assessing burn wound healing potential. Additional research is needed into thermography, videomicroscopy, and SFDI to evaluate their full potential. Future studies should focus on reliability and measurement error, and provide a precise description of which construct is aimed to measure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-281
Issue number2
Early online date2018
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Assessment
  • Burn wound
  • Depth
  • Healing potential
  • Measurement properties
  • Review [publication type]

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