Effects of airbag deployment: lesions, epidemiology, and management

Monica Corazza, Silvana Trincone, Annarosa Virgili
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology 2004, 5 (5): 295-300
Airbags are restraining safety devices, but their activation may sometimes induce injuries during road accidents. Rapid deceleration due to an impact causes the ignition of a sodium azide cartridge, which releases nitrogen gas to inflate the nylon rubber bag. Numerous high-temperature gases, sodium hydroxide, carbon dioxide, and various other metallic oxides are also released producing a corrosive alkaline aerosol. Cutaneous and extracutaneous injuries due to airbag deployment may occur. Cutaneous injuries are frequent, and consist of irritant dermatitis, and chemical and thermal burns. Furthermore, numerous kinds of traumatic lesions (abrasions, friction burns, and lacerations) may be observed. Extracutaneous damage may involve the eyes, ears, cardiovascular system, nerves, joints, and bones. The nature of airbag lesions, their frequency, and management are reported. Even though the majority of airbag lesions are minor and do not require hospitalization, correct diagnosis and the choice of the most suitable treatment are necessary.

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