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Dressings and/or debridement of partial-thickness burns, initial or subsequent; small (less than 5% total body surface area)

CPT4 code

Name of the Procedure:

Dressings and/or Debridement of Partial-Thickness Burns, Initial or Subsequent (Small Burns - Less than 5% Total Body Surface Area)


This procedure involves cleaning and removing dead tissue from partial-thickness burns followed by applying appropriate dressings. Partial-thickness burns affect both the outer layer (epidermis) and part of the inner layer (dermis) of the skin.


Medical Condition or Problem:
  • Treats partial-thickness burns covering less than 5% of the total body surface area.
Goals or Expected Outcomes:
  • Reduce the risk of infection.
  • Promote faster and more effective healing.
  • Minimize scarring and improve functional and aesthetic outcomes.


Symptoms or Conditions:
  • Presence of partial-thickness burns.
  • Small, isolated burns affecting less than 5% of the body.
Patient Criteria:
  • Suitable for patients with small, manageable burn wounds.
  • Patients showing signs of infection or delayed healing in burn areas.


Pre-procedure Instructions:
  • No specific preparation usually required.
  • Keep the burn area clean and dry until treated.
  • Inform the healthcare provider of any existing health conditions or medications.
Diagnostic Tests:
  • Visual examination of the burn area.
  • Possible wound culture if signs of infection are present.

Procedure Description

Step-by-Step Explanation:
  1. Cleaning: The burn area is gently cleaned with a saline solution or antiseptic.
  2. Debridement: Dead or damaged tissue is carefully removed using sterile instruments.
  3. Dressings: A suitable dressing is applied to protect the wound and promote healing.
Tools and Equipment:
  • Sterile instruments (scalpel, scissors, tweezers).
  • Saline solution or antiseptic.
  • Various types of dressings (e.g., hydrocolloid, transparent film).
Anesthesia or Sedation:
  • Local anesthesia may be used to minimize pain during debridement.


  • Typically takes 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size and complexity of the burn.


  • Performed in hospitals, outpatient clinics, or specialized burn units.


  • Registered nurses.
  • Medical doctors or burn specialists.
  • Sometimes, a surgeon for more complex cases.

Risks and Complications

Common Risks:
  • Pain or discomfort during the procedure.
  • Minor bleeding from the debrided area.
Rare Risks:
  • Infection.
  • Delayed healing.
  • Scarring.
Management of Complications:
  • Proper wound care instructions.
  • Antibiotics in case of infection.
  • Follow-up appointments for wound assessment.


  • Reduced infection risk.
  • Faster healing process.
  • Improved cosmetic and functional results.


Post-procedure Care:
  • Keep the wound clean and dry.
  • Follow specific dressing change instructions provided by healthcare personnel.
Expected Recovery Time:
  • Varies, typically from several days to weeks depending on the severity of the burn.
  • Avoid activities that may irritate or reopen the wound.
  • Follow prescribed pain management protocols.
Follow-up Appointments:
  • Regular check-ins to monitor healing progress.
  • Additional debridement or dressing changes as needed.


Other Treatments:
  • Silver sulfadiazine cream or other topical antibiotics.
  • Moist wound healing with hydrogel or other advanced dressings.
Pros and Cons:
  • Alternatives may be less invasive but slower in promoting healing.
  • Optimal choice depends on burn severity and patient-specific factors.

Patient Experience

During the Procedure:
  • May feel some discomfort or pain, managed with local anesthesia.
After the Procedure:
  • Possible mild pain or itching as the burn heals.
  • Pain management strategies and comfort measures will be provided.

By understanding this procedure, patients and caregivers can better prepare and manage expectations for managing partial-thickness burns efficiently.

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