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Frostbite (cont.)

Frostbite Diagnosis

The doctor will take a history in order to gather information on the events of the exposure and the medical condition prior to the cold injury.

  • The doctor will take note of the vital signs, including temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and respiratory rate in order to exclude or treat any immediate life threats such as hypothermia or severe infection.
  • X-rays or otehr imaging studies may be performed, but they probably will be deferred until weeks later when they are more useful to the treatment team.
  • The doctor will collect data in order to classify the injury as superficial or deep and the prognosis as favorable or poor.

A good prognosis is heralded by intact sensation, normal skin color, blisters with clear fluid, the ability to deform the skin with pressure, and the skin becoming pink when thawed.

Blisters with dark fluid, skin turning dark blue when thawed, and an inability to indent the skin with pressure indicate a poor prognosis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/9/2014

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Frostbite »

Frostbite is a cold-related injury characterized by freezing of tissue.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


Medical Dictionary