Treatment of extensive toxic epidermal necrolysis in children

Marcus Spies, Arthur P. Sanford, J. F Aili Low, Steven E. Wolf, David N. Herndon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Objective. Toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) is a rare but life-threatening disease of the skin and mucous membranes. We report our experience in the treatment of pediatric TEN patients with early debridement of necrotic skin and coverage with human allograft skin. Methods. From 1984 to 2000, 15 children (6 girls, 9 boys, 7.2 ± 1.5 years) with a histologic diagnosis of TEN and involvement of >30% total body surface area were treated at the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Galveston. All were treated in a specialized pediatric burn intensive care unit after our standard treatment protocol, including operative debridement of sloughing skin and allografting within 24 hours of admission. Outcome parameters were mortality, length of hospital stay, wound healing, clinical complications, causative drugs, corticosteroid use, and delay in referral to a burn center. Results. Taking a new medication (antibiotics, anticonvulsive drugs) was associated with all cases of TEN. Patients who were treated with early debridement and coverage with allograft skin showed no wound infection, and overall mortality was 7%. Total length of hospital stay was 26 ± 3 days. Long-term sequelae were changes in skin pigmentation (100%), ophthalmologic problems (40%), and diffuse itching early after wound healing (53%). Conclusion. Although a rare disease in children, TEN was managed successfully in a burn center environment, using early debridement and wound coverage with allograft skin as a biological dressing. The use of corticosteroids and referral patterns seems unchanged during the past 2 decades, indicating an additional need for information and education about the disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1162-1168
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001


  • Biological dressing
  • Burn center
  • Children
  • Mortality
  • Toxic epidermal necrolysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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