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RMJ. 2010; 35(2): 137-140

Electric burn injuries

Umar Farooq, Ishtiaq Ahmed, Abida Maryum.


To highlight the pattern of electrical injuries seen in our environment and the management problems faced in our set up.
This retrospective observational study was carried out at Burns unit Fauji Foundation Hospital, Rawalpindi from June 1999 to April 2008. All patients seen in causality or admitted in burns unit were evaluated regarding the cause of injury, place of injury, extent of involvement of burnt area and mortality of victims. All findings were recorded on a separate Performa and evaluated statistically at the end of the study.
A total of 248 patients were included in the study. Flame injuries were the commonest (43.96%) with mean age of victims of 22.81 years. Most of the electrical injuries were sustained at home (40.63%, n=13), followed by occupational (37.50%, n=12) and 21.87% (n=07) in streets or outside. Majority of the patients (59.37%, n=19) sustained less than 10% burns. More than 20% burns were noticed in 15.63% (n=05) patients. No death was observed in patients with low voltage burns and 9.37% (n=03) mortality were noted among patients having high voltage burns.
Children at home and young persons at workplace are more prone to have electrical injuries. Use of good quality electric wires, home applainces/machinery, enforcement of safety rules at home and workplace and upgradation of our health facilities are required to decrease the menace of severe electrical injuries. (Rawal Med J 2010;35).
Key words
Electrical injuries, burns, electric shock.

Burns by electrical injury is a relatively infrequent but potentially devastating form of multisystem injury with high morbidity and mortality. Electrical trauma can be caused by low-voltage current (less than 1000 V), high-voltage current (more than 1000 V), lightning and voltaic arc.1 In adults, most electrical injuries occur in the work-place, whereas children are exposed mostly at home.2-4 In nature, electrical injury occurs due to lightning especially in hilly areas.5 It causes serious injuries in 1000-1500 individuals every year worldwide with mortality rate of 20-30%, with as many as 74% of survivors experiencing permanent injury and sequel.1,6
Electrical injuries clinical manifestations can vary and range from mild complaints not demanding serious medical help to life-threatening conditions.1 Immediate death is rare and mostly associated with lightening. It may occur from current-induced ventricular fibrillation or a systole or from respiratory arrest secondary to paralysis of the central respiratory control system or due to paralysis of the respiratory muscles.5,7 The severity of the injury depends on the intensity of the electrical current (determined by the voltage of the source and the resistance of the victim), the pathway it follows through the victim's body, and the duration of the contact with the source of the current.5 There is no specific therapy for electrical injury and the management is

Key words: Electrical injuries, burns, electric shock.

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