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[Risk of arrhythmia and domestic low-voltage electrical injury].

AIM: Analysis of domestic low-voltage (220-240 V) electrical injury in children admitted to a pediatric emergency department to illustrate the low risk of initial or delayed risk of arrhythmia.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Retrospective study between 2001 and 2008 analyzing all children aged less than 15 years admitted for a low-voltage electrical injury. The data collected were age, sex, time and circumstances of the accident, time and day of admission, transport modalities, presence of risk factors for arrhythmia (transthoracic current, wet skin, tetany, loss of consciousness or neurological symptoms, and initial EKG abnormalities), injuries, EKG, muscular and/or cardiac enzyme values, progression and complications. For statistical analysis, data were entered in Microsoft Excel tables. Analysis was done with StatView5.1 (SAS Institute) and Epi Info 6.04fr (VF, ENSP epiconcept). In the descriptive analysis, the data are presented as mean values with SD, median and range.

RESULTS: Forty-eight children were included. The mean annual number of admissions was equal to 6 (range, 3-12). The mean age was 6.2 + or - 4.3 years (median, 4.6 years). There was a male predominance: the overall sex ratio was 1.5, i.e., 3 before the age of 2 and 2.6 before the age of 10. The electrical injury occurred after contact with a wire or a connected cord or after the introduction of a metallic object in a wall socket. Ten children had risk factors of arrhythmia (mainly wet skin or thoracic pain). Twenty-nine children suffered from burns to the extremities (digits and hands, 70 %). At admission, 45 children had an EKG performed. The initial EKG was considered abnormal in 8 cases showing: sinusal tachycardia (n=4), incomplete right bundle branch block (n=4), and V(1) negative T waves (n=1). The EKG normalized within the first 12h. Hospitalization for cardiac monitoring was required for 18 children. No delayed arrhythmia occurred. In a mean time of 3.5h after the accident, a troponin dosage was given to 15 children and was normal in all cases. One child developed rhabdomyolysis and evolved without needing dialysis.

CONCLUSION: After a low-voltage electrical injury, initial arrhythmia is not frequent, with often a nonspecific and transitory EKG expression; delayed arrhythmia is very rare. Children presenting to the emergency department after such an electrical accident, who are asymptomatic, without any risk factors for arrhythmia (wet skin, tetany, vertical pathway of the current, preexistent cardiological conditions, loss of consciousness) and with a normal initial EKG do not require cardiac monitoring.

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