Electronic Cigarette-Related Injuries Presenting to Five Large Burn Centers, 2015-2019

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Journal of Burn Care and Research





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Electronic cigarettes are advertised as safer alternatives to traditional cigarettes yet cause serious injury. U.S. burn centers have witnessed a rise in both inpatient and outpatient visits to treat thermal injuries related to their use. A multicenter retrospective chart review of American Burn Association burn registry data from five large burn centers was performed from January 2015 to July 2019 to identify patients with electronic cigarette-related injuries. A total of 127 patients were identified. Most sustained less than 10% total body surface area burns (mean 3.8%). Sixty-six percent sustained second-degree burns. Most patients (78%) were injured while using their device. Eighteen percent of patients reported spontaneous device combustion. Two patients were injured while changing their device battery, and two were injured modifying their device. Three percent were injured by secondhand mechanism. Burn injury was the most common injury pattern (100%), followed by blast injury (3.93%). Flame burns were the most common (70%) type of thermal injury; however, most patients sustained a combination-type injury secondary to multiple burn mechanisms. The most injured body region was the extremities. Silver sulfadiazine was the most common agent used in the initial management of thermal injuries. Sixty-three percent of patients did not require surgery. Of the 36% requiring surgery, 43.4% required skin grafting. Multiple surgeries were uncommon. Our data recognize electronic cigarette use as a public health problem with the potential to cause thermal injury and secondary trauma. Most patients are treated on an inpatient basis although most patients treated on an outpatient basis have good outcomes.

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Electronic cigarettes


Health Services Research

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