Surface electrical capacitance as an index of epidermal barrier properties of composite skin substitutes and skin autografts

Michael J. Goretsky, Andrew P. Supp, David G Greenhalgh, Glenn D. Warden, Steven T. Boyce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Restoration of the epidermal barrier is a requirement for burn wound closure. A rapid, reliable, and noninvasive measure of the rate of restoration of the epidermal barrier is not readily available. To monitor the reformation of the epidermal barrier, we measured surface electrical capacitance on cultured skin substitutes (human keratinocytes and fibroblasts attached to collagen‐glycosaminoglycan substrates) and split‐thickness skin autografts grafted to patients. Data were collected from four patients with burns and one pediatric patient with a congenital hairy nevus comprising > 60% total body surface area. Capacitance measurements were performed at days 7, 10, 12, 14, and 28 by direct contact of the capacitance probe for 10 seconds to the cultured skin substitutes or split‐thickness autograft. On postoperative days 7, 10, 12, 14, 21, and 28, the surface electrical capacitance of cultured skin substitutes after 10 seconds of sampling was 2468 ± 268, 1443 ± 439, 129 ± 43, 200 ± 44, 88 ± 20, and 74 ± 19 picofarads (mean ± standard error of the mean), respectively. Surface electrical capacitance for split‐thickness autograft on the same days was 1699 ± 371, 1914 ± 433, 125 ± 16, 175 ± 63, 110 ± 26, 271 ± 77 picofarads, respectively. Surface electrical capacitance in all of the grafts decreased with time. Cultured skin substitutes had approximately the same 10‐second capacitance values as split‐thickness autograft during 3 weeks of healing and approached values for uninjured skin (32 ± 5 picofarads) by 12 days. Measurement of surface electrical capacitance is a direct, inexpensive, and convenient index for noninvasive monitoring of epidermal barrier formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-425
Number of pages7
JournalWound Repair and Regeneration
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Dermatology


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