What are the zones of frostbite injury?

Updated: Oct 13, 2020
  • Author: Bobak Zonnoor , MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Frostbite injury can be divided into the following 3 zones. The zone of coagulation is the most severe and distal region of injury and consists of irreversible tissue damage. The zone of stasis is the middle region and is characterized by severe tissue damage that may be reversible. The zone of hyperemia is the most proximal and least damaged region. Generally, recovery is expected and occurs in about 10 days.

When external warmth is applied, ischemic insult may occur because perfusion from deep blood vessels tends to return slowly relative to the accelerated tissue oxygen demand. Rapid rewarming is favored over slow rewarming because it minimizes this discrepancy. [24] Prolonged exposure to cold, refreezing of partially thawed tissue, and slow rewarming predispose the tissue to greater ischemic insult, resulting in greater tissue loss.

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