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The Burn Center

Commonly Used Terms


A bandage with silver in it put directly onto the burn to protect from germs and help the burn to heal. Acticoat® can be changed every 3 to 7 days and is used for treatment of superficial burns only.
Medication given to stay comfortable during surgery, wound care, or other care. Types of anesthesia can include:
General Anesthesia:
Medication is given through an IV and/or by breathing. It causes the patient to go into a deep sleep. He/she will not be aware of what goes on around him/her. Doctors will closely monitor the heart and breathing while giving this medication.
Local Anesthesia:
Medication is given at the site of the surgery (such as the leg). It will cause the area to feel numb.
Conscious sedation:
Medication is given through an IV. This causes a sleepy feeling or a light sleep. Doctors will closely monitor the heart and breathing while giving this type of medication.
Skin taken from one part of the body and put onto the burn injured area. This is placed on the body during surgery and stays on after surgery.


A thin, pale ointment that protects from germs and is often used on minor or almost healed burns or on burns of the face.
A fluid-filled sac between the first and second layer of skin. Some blisters may go away without treatment. Others may need to be opened by staff during wound care.
Injury to the skin and body from heat, cold, radiation, chemicals or electricity. Burns can be large or small. They can be serious or minor. Burns are defined by how deep they are:
First-Degree Burn:
A burn to the top layer of skin (epidermis) that resembles sunburn. There is no breaking of the skin, and it often gets better within 5 days.
Second-Degree Burn (partial thickness):
Burn to the top and second layers of skin (dermis). Often, this burn causes pain and blisters, and heals within 2 weeks. Sometimes, a deep second-degree burn can go into the bottom of the dermis layers and need surgery to heal.
Third-Degree Burn (full thickness):
All layers of the skin (epidermis and dermis) are destroyed. The wound appears dry and white. These burns do not hurt since the nerves have been injured. These burns require surgery (skin grafting) to heal.
Burn Team:
The members of the Burn Center staff that care for you or a loved one, including doctors, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, dietitians, social workers, and others.


A rigid casing, made of fiberglass or plaster, placed on a body part to keep it from moving. A cast is used after surgery or as needed to protect or stretch a part of the body that was burned.
Consent Form:
A form that is signed by a patient or the parent or guardian of a child that gives permission to members of the health care team to do a procedure (such as surgery).


Donor Site:
The area of the body from which skin is taken and used to cover the burn injury.


Dead skin (caused by the burn) that may require surgery in order to be removed.


Feeding tube (also known as a nasogastric tube):
A tube placed through the nose into the stomach to give nutrition, fluids, or medicine.
A doctor who is specializing in a specific area, such as burn surgery, within a field, such as surgery.


Homograft (also known as allograft):
Donated human cadaver skin that is used as a short-term treatment and is placed on the patient during surgery. During a later surgery, the doctor will remove this and replace it with the patient's own skin.
Hydrotherapy Room:
The room in the Burn Center where the nurses wash and bandage wounds.


Intravenous line (IV) or peripheral intravenous line (PIV):
A small tube placed a short distance into a vein that can be used to give fluids, and/or medications. IVs can be put into an arm, leg, hand, foot, or scalp and can be moved, if needed.


Mepilex Ag®:
A foam bandage containing silver that is put directly onto the burn and is changed once or twice a week as per the doctor's orders. This bandage helps the burn to heal and protects from infection.


Pressure Garment:
These dressings (such as Tubigrip® and Demagrip®) are sleeves of cotton and elastic that put minor pressure on the skin. They help to keep the skin soft, flat, and moving well. Using these begins the scar management phase of recovery. They come in many sizes to fit the healing body part. Some patients may need custom-made garments. These are also tight-fitting, long-term clothes made from spandex-like material that put pressure on the skin to help with the healing. You will be taught how and when to use them. You will also learn how to wash and care for them.


A doctor who has completed medical school and is training in a specific field of medicine (such as medicine, surgery, pediatrics).
The twice daily meeting of the Burn Team to discuss patient progress and care plans.


An area of new skin that may look or feel different from the skin that was not hurt. Soon after the burn heals, the scars may be raised or puffy. At first, they can be pink, red, or purple. Later, the scars may soften, flatten, and turn lighter in color. A raised scar may keep the joints from moving well.
Scar management:
The process to help scars heal well. The goal is to treat the skin so it stays soft and flat enough to let the body move. This begins on adimission to the Burn Center and includes splint use and stretches. After the burn heals, special tight-fitting garments (such as Tubigrip® or Demagrip® – see pressure garment definition) may be used. These help to keep the skin flat. Other custom-made garments that apply greater pressure on the skin, may also be used. At times, silicone may also be used with the garments to treat specific areas. This process ends when the scar is "mature" (about 1 year after the burn injury). You will be taught how to use the different treatments for scar management.
Silvadene®/Silver sulfadiazene (SSD):
A white cream that protects against germs and is used to treat second- and third-degree burns. This can be put on many places on the body except the face.
Silver nitrate:
A liquid medicine made of silver salt that protects against germs and is used to treat burns. It may turn the skin dark brown for a short time.
Skin Grafting:
Surgery to remove the injured skin and put new (donor) skin on the burn injured area. The new skin can be the patient's own (autograft) or come from a human donor (homograft/allograft). This surgery is used to treat deep second-degree and all third-degree burns.
A device made of molded plastic that is used to keep a body part from moving. A splint is used after surgery or as needed to protect or stretch a part of the body that was burned.
Sulfamylon® (mafenide acetate):
A white cream that protects against germs and is used to treat second-degree and third-degree burns. Often, this medicine is used along with others to treat serious burns.


William Randolph Hearst
Burn Center
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center
525 East 68th Street
Greenberg Pavilion, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10021
Map & Directions
For appointments:
(212) 746-5024
For burn emergencies:
1-888-NYH-BURN (694-2876) or (212) 746-0328

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