PMID: 10338415May 25, 1999Paper

Electrical injuries: a 30-year review

The Journal of Trauma
J RaiD N Herndon


Electrical injuries currently remain a world-wide problem. This study determines whether electrical injuries at our institution have changed in the past 30 years, and identifies electrical burn complications and any high-risk groups. From 1967 to 1997, 185 children admitted to our institute were identified with electrical burns. Fifty-five percent of these electrical burns occurred from 1987 to 1997. During the last 10 years of this study, 43% of the electrical injuries (n = 44) were from low voltage (120-240 V) and 57% (n = 58) from high voltage (>1,000 V). In 17 children, serious low-voltage burns were identified as oral commissure burns. These were treated conservatively with one to two reconstructive procedures within 2 years. High-voltage injuries were mainly identified in male children (age 11 to 18 years). Thirty-three percent of high-voltage burns required amputation, 29% had deep muscle involvement, and 24% required either escharotomy or fasciotomy. No mortalities were reported. Although the incidence of low-voltage burns is currently on a steady decline, high-voltage injuries remain a problem, particularly in adolescent males.


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