Electrical burn injuries in children
Article first published online: 10 DEC 2008
© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 Paediatrics and Child Health Division (Royal Australasian College of Physicians)
Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Volume 44, Issue 12, pages 727–730, December 2008
How to Cite
Tomkins, K. L. and Holland, A. J. (2008), Electrical burn injuries in children. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 44: 727–730. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2008.01414.x
- Issue published online: 18 DEC 2008
- Article first published online: 10 DEC 2008
- Accepted for publication 30 June 2008.
- electrical injury;
- renal failure
Aim: Electrical burns account for up to 10% of burns admissions worldwide. Although a potentially serious mechanism of injury in children, there exists limited Australian data. This study aimed to describe the epidemiology, presentation, management and complications of electrical burn injuries in children.
Methods: We performed a retrospective case note review of all children under 16 years of age with electrical burns admitted to the New South Wales Paediatric Burns Centre over an 8-year, 2-month study period between November 1995 and December 2003.
Results: Twenty-two cases were identified. The mean age at presentation was 7.6 years (range 8 months to 14.3 years). Eighty-six percent of cases were sustained from a Low Voltage (<1000 W) power source and 55% occurred in males. The total body surface area burnt ranged from 0.5% to 35% with an average of 4%. Fourteen children had their burns managed non-operatively, but eight required various surgical procedures ranging from local debridement and primary closure to full-thickness skin grafting. The average length of hospital stay was 6 days (range 1–58 days). Complications occurred in 4 of the 22 patients (18%) and included wound infections, acute renal failure because of myoglobinuria, permanent electrocardiogram changes and long-term paraesthesia. Three patients (14%) suffered continued morbidity because of scarring, amputation and psychological disturbance. There was no mortality.
Conclusions: Electrical injury was an infrequent but potentially serious cause of injury in children. Minor injuries were successfully managed non-operatively. Neurological sequelae, cardiac arrhythmias and renal failure remain serious complications in up to 20% of cases.