Ann Burns Fire Disasters. 2015 Mar 31;28(1):32-8.
  • 1Unité de Chirurgie Plastique reconstructive et esthétique, Chirurgie de la main et brûlologie, Faculté de médecine, Université de kinshasa, République Démocratique du Congo.
  • 2Unité de Chirurgie de la main et des brûlés, SoS main Grenoble, hôpital Albert michallon, Centre hospitalier Universitaire de Grenoble, France


Burn injuries to the hand are still common in low-income countries. Between December 1st 2010 and May 1st 2014, 32 patients, representing 38 hands, were admitted and treated at the University Clinics of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We observed 22 patients (69%) in the juvenile age group (under 18 years old) and 10 patients (31%) in the adult age group (18-59 years). We did not observe any patients in the senior age group (60 years and over). In the juvenile age group, those aged from 1 to 5 years old were the most affected, comprising 13 patients (40%). Accidents occurred mainly at home (72%). The most common burn etiologies were thermal injuries caused by flame (51%) and scalds (34%). Contractures were the most frequently occurring lesions (84%). Overall dorsal retraction, known as « claw hand », was found in 40% of patients, and was associated with keloid and hypertrophic scars in 84% of cases. Excision and grafting were performed in 43.7%, local flaps in 43.7% and distant flaps in 12.5% of cases. On discharge from hospital, 84% « good » results were observed. Follow-up lasted 18 months. This study demonstrates the feasibility of reconstructive surgery in sequelae of hand burns, despite limited resources. However, the challenges in low income countries with limited resources are numerous: poor access to current techniques of plastic surgery, inadequate initial burns management, and poverty.