Dr Samuel Chu1, Dr Suzanne Rae1, Dr Jeremy Rawlins1, Dr Anna Goodwin-Walters1, Dr Helen Douglas1
1Fiona Stanley Hospital – State Adult Burns Unit Western Australia, Perth, Australia
Electronic cigarettes have increased in popularity over the past few years, and with them the incidence of associated burn injuries secondary to spontaneous combustion.
Four electronic cigarette burns within a six-year period were treated at the State Adult Burns Unit in Western Australia. All four patients were male. The average patient age was 40 years. Depth of burn varied from superficial partial thickness to full thickness burns. Two cases involved less than 1% total body surface area and were treated as outpatients with nil requirement for operative intervention. Two cases involved more than 2% total body surface area and were treated as inpatients with a length of stay of 5 days and operative management with split thickness skin grafts and recell. All four cases involved the thighs, and three cases involved the hands.
Despite the small number of cases, the data on average length of stay and anatomical involvement of burns is consistent with other epidemiological studies. (Brownson et al., 2016; Dohnalek, Hayden & Harley, 2015; Toy et al., 2017)
Electronic cigarettes have the potential for serious burn injury, and the awareness of this is perhaps not as well understood as it should be. Opportunities for burns prevention along with smoking cessation could be highlighted with the increasing use of vaping.
Brownson, Elisha G ; Thompson, Callie M ; Goldsberry, Sarah ; Chong, H. Jonathan ; Friedrich, Jeffrey B ; Pham, Tam N ; Arbabi, Saman ; Carrougher, Gretchen J ; Gibran, N. S. (2016) ‘Explosion Injuries from E-Cigarettes’, New England Journal of Medicine, 375(14), pp. 1400–1402.
Dohnalek, Hayden M ; Harley, E. H. (2015) ‘Analysis of Electronic Cigarette-Related Injury Presenting to U.S. Emergency Departments, 2008–2017’, Journal of Emergency Medicine, 49(6), pp. 974–983.
Toy, J; Dong, F; Lee, C; Zappa, D; Le, T; Archambeau, B; Culhane, J & Neeki, M. (2017) ‘Alarming increase in electronic nicotine delivery systems-related burn injuries: A serious unregulated public health issue’, American Journal of Emergency Medicine, 35(11), pp. 1781–1782.
Dr Samuel Chu is a service registrar working with the State Adult Burns Unit of Western Australia. He has a keen interest in plastic surgery.