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A case-matched controlled study on high-voltage electrical injuries vs thermal burns


Handschin, A E; Vetter, S; Jung, F J; Guggenheim, M; Künzi, W; Giovanoli, P (2009). A case-matched controlled study on high-voltage electrical injuries vs thermal burns. Journal of Burn Care & Research, 30(3):400-407.

Abstract

The aim of this study was to provide an increased level of evidence on surgical management of high-tension electrical injuries compared with thermal burns using a case-controlled study design. Sixty-eight patients (64 males, 4 females, aged 33.7 +/- 13 years) with high-tension electrical burns were matched for age, gender, and burnt extent with a cohort of patients sustaining thermal burns. Data were analyzed for cause of accident (occupational vs nonoccupational), concomitant injuries, extent of burn and burn depth, surgical management, complications, and hospital stay. High-tension electrical burn patients required an average of 5.2 +/- 4 operations (range, 1-23 operations) compared with 3.3 +/- 1.9 (range, 1-10 operations) after thermal burns (P = .0019). Amputation rates (19.7% vs 1.5%), escharotomy/fasciotomy rates (47% vs 21%), and total hospitalization days (44 d vs 32 d) were significantly higher in high-tension electrical injuries (P < .05). Creatinine kinase levels were significantly elevated during the first 2 days in patients with subsequent amputations. Free flap failure was observed during the first 4 weeks after the trauma, whereas no flap failure occurred at later stages. Local, pedicled, and distant flaps were used in 15% of the patients. The mortality in both groups was 13.2% vs 11%, respectively (nonsignificant). High-voltage electrical injury remains a complex surgical challenge. When performing free flap coverage, caution must be taken for a vulnerable phase lasting up to 4 weeks after the trauma. This phase is likely the result of a progressive intima lesion, potentially hazardous to microvascular reconstruction. The use of pedicle flaps may resemble an alternative to free flaps during this period.

The aim of this study was to provide an increased level of evidence on surgical management of high-tension electrical injuries compared with thermal burns using a case-controlled study design. Sixty-eight patients (64 males, 4 females, aged 33.7 +/- 13 years) with high-tension electrical burns were matched for age, gender, and burnt extent with a cohort of patients sustaining thermal burns. Data were analyzed for cause of accident (occupational vs nonoccupational), concomitant injuries, extent of burn and burn depth, surgical management, complications, and hospital stay. High-tension electrical burn patients required an average of 5.2 +/- 4 operations (range, 1-23 operations) compared with 3.3 +/- 1.9 (range, 1-10 operations) after thermal burns (P = .0019). Amputation rates (19.7% vs 1.5%), escharotomy/fasciotomy rates (47% vs 21%), and total hospitalization days (44 d vs 32 d) were significantly higher in high-tension electrical injuries (P < .05). Creatinine kinase levels were significantly elevated during the first 2 days in patients with subsequent amputations. Free flap failure was observed during the first 4 weeks after the trauma, whereas no flap failure occurred at later stages. Local, pedicled, and distant flaps were used in 15% of the patients. The mortality in both groups was 13.2% vs 11%, respectively (nonsignificant). High-voltage electrical injury remains a complex surgical challenge. When performing free flap coverage, caution must be taken for a vulnerable phase lasting up to 4 weeks after the trauma. This phase is likely the result of a progressive intima lesion, potentially hazardous to microvascular reconstruction. The use of pedicle flaps may resemble an alternative to free flaps during this period.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Reconstructive Surgery
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Division of Surgical Research
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2009
Deposited On:12 Feb 2010 08:04
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:54
Publisher:Lippincott Wiliams & Wilkins
ISSN:1559-047X
Publisher DOI:10.1097/BCR.0b013e3181a289a6
PubMed ID:19349896
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-30419

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