The use of cooling as first aid in burn injury has been widely justified and employed although, at present, there exists no defined scientific verification of its physiological benefit or a rational therapeutic protocol to follow. The objective of this study was to identify and to quantify the primary parameters which control cooling therapy. Experiments were performed on over 200 hamster cheeckpouch preparations by creating a standard burn in the tissue resulting in the occlusion of a predictable percentage of vessels in the microcirculation. Following a delay of either 30 s or 10 min, the tissue was cooled to a temperature ranging between 3°C and 25°C for either 5, 30, or 60 min. In general, postburn cooling caused resumption of blood flow in a number of vessels which would otherwise have remained inactive. Optimum cooling temperatures were within the range of 5°C to 10°C, and were more effective when initiated immediately following the burn and maintained for times extended to 1 hr.

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