Objective: Comparison of cultured skin substitutes (CSS) and split-thickness skin autograft (AG) was performed to assess whether donor-site harvesting can be reduced quantitatively and whether functional and cosmetic outcome is similar qualitatively in the treatment of patients with massive cutaneous burns. Summary Background Data: Cultured skin substitutes consisting of collagen-glycosaminoglycan substrates populated with autologous fibroblasts and keratinocytes have been shown to close full-thickness skin wounds in preclinical and clinical studies with acceptable functional and cosmetic results. Methods: Qualitative outcome was compared between CSS and AG in 45 patients on an ordinal scale (0, worst; 10, best) with primary analyses at postoperative day 28 and after about 1 year for erythema, pigmentation, pliability, raised scar, epithelial blistering, and surface texture. In the latest 12 of the 45 patients,tracings were performed of donor skin biopsies and wounds treated with CSS at postoperative days 14 and 28 to calculate percentage engraftment, the ratio of closed wound: donor skin areas, and the percentage of total body surface area closed with CSS. Results: Measures of qualitative outcome of CSS or AG were not different statistically at 1 year after grafting. Engraftment at postoperative day 14 exceeded 75% in the 12 patients evaluated. The ratio of closed wound:donor skin areas for CSS at postoperative day 28 was significantly greater than for conventional 4:1 meshed autografts. The percentage of total body surface area closed with CSS at postoperative day 28 was significantly less than with AG. Conclusions: The requirement for harvesting of donor skin for CSS was less than for conventional skin autografts. These results suggest that acute-phase recovery of patients with extensive burns is facilitated and that complications are reduced by the use of CSS together with conventional skin grafting.
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