Burns are classified by degree:
Fourth degree burns that include a section of a limb can lead to a life-threatening condition, called compartment syndrome, that threatens the viability of the limb. In this case, surgeons may have to perform a fasciotomy or an escharotomy (eschar is another name for dead tissue) to relieve the pressure in the wound area. Untreated, this could lead to amputation or gas gangrene and death. An immunological and inflammatory response called the complement cascade is triggered. The cascade also causes increased fibrinolysis (tissue damage) and blood clots can form. A person at this stage may be very prone to develop deep vein thromboses and pulmonary emboli.
Information courtesy of Ann Burkhardt, OTR/L,
a fellow of the American Occupational Therapy Association