Victims with full thickness burns, as discussed here, on their arms and legs experience tremendous swelling from the fluids necessary to heal. The swelling puts pressure on the nerves and tissues of the healthy sections of the burned limbs. The pressure may cause a complete loss of blood flow and tissue damage to the distal limb. To relieve the pressure and promote blood flow, the burn surgeon may perform the following procedures:
- Escharotomy — slitting of the burned skin (eschar);
- Fasciotomy — slitting of the burned skin and splitting of the fascia (the thick white covering of the muscle) to inspect how the muscle is doing.
Although gruesome, the surgeons often take photos before and after the procedure to document the health of the tissue and progression toward recovery. Such photos may be helpful to educate the jury about the victim’s pain and suffering.