Wound infections and sepsis are significant causes of morbidity after burn injury and can be alleviated by early excision and grafting. In situations that preclude early surgery, topical agents allow for a safer delay. Cerium nitrate compounded with silver sulfadiazine (Ce-SSD) is a burn cream that provides broad antibacterial activity, forms a temporary barrier, and promotes re-epithelialization. Methemoglobinemia is a rare, but oft-cited, systemic complication of Ce-SSD. In this retrospective review, 157 patients treated with Ce-SSD between July 2014 – July 2018 were identified and the monitoring protocol for methemoglobinemia during Ce-SSD treatment was evaluated. Median age was 59 years (IQR, 47-70.5 years), with total body surface area burn (TBSA) of 8.5% (IQR, 3-27), adjusted Baux score of 76 (IQR, 59-94), and inhalation injury present in 9.9% of patients. Primary endpoints included incidence of symptomatic and asymptomatic methemoglobinemia. Of the 9.6% (n = 15) of patients with methemoglobinemia, 73.3% (n=11) had maximum methemoglobin levels ≥ 72 hours from time of first application. One patient developed clinically significant methemoglobinemia. Patients with TBSA ≥ 20% were more likely to develop methemoglobinemia (OR 9.318, 95% CI 2.078 to 65.73, p = 0.0078), however neither Ce-SSD doses nor days of exposure were significant predictors. Ce-SSD application to temporize burn wounds until excision and grafting is safe, effective, and, in asymptomatic patients with TBSA < 20%, can be used without serial blood gas monitoring. Vigilant monitoring for symptoms should be performed in patients with TBSA ≥ 20%, but routine blood gases are not necessary.

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