A study of bacterial quantitation in burn wounds was undertaken to compare a new absorbent paper disc technique with the standard burn wound biopsy technique. In the first part of the study 228 paired samples were used to compare the two methods; a high correlation coefficient was found with the four most commonly encountered bacteria, and both methods showed a high specificity and sensitivity for each of the organisms. In the second portion of the study, the discs were compared with burn wound biopsies that had been divided into their superficial and deep segments. Thirty paired samples were studied and again the correlation was high, indicating that the disc technique also measured the organisms found in the deeper tissue levels. The absorbent disc technique is simple, convenient, noninvasive, inexpensive, and yields reproducible results. These findings indicate that burn wound biopsies may no longer be required for infection monitoring in the burn patient.
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