Electronic Cigarette Explosion Resulting in a C1 and C2 Fracture: A Case Report

Tatsuya Norii, Adam Plate
Journal of Emergency Medicine 2017, 52 (1): 86-88

BACKGROUND: Electronic cigarettes have seen a drastic increase in use. A lithium-ion battery is often used as the rechargeable battery of the electronic cigarette device and has recently received much attention in terms of safety. There are several recent case reports in the scientific literature of injuries due to electronic cigarette explosions that involved soft-tissue injuries.

CASE REPORT: We report a significant spinal fracture from an electronic-cigarette explosion in a 27-year-old male. The electronic cigarette exploded during use, sending the mouthpiece through the pharynx and into the first cervical vertebra and resulting in fractures of the first and second vertebrae. An x-ray study of the neck showed a foreign body in the neck at the level of C1. A computed tomography scan of the neck showed fractures of C1. The foreign body was removed in the operating room. The patient was discharged home without neurologic sequelae. WHY SHOULD AN EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN BE AWARE OF THIS?: Our case report is the first case of a cervical spine injury due to the explosion of an electronic cigarette. This case demonstrates that an electronic cigarette explosion can cause potentially serious penetrating neck injury. Emergency physicians should be aware of the potential danger of electronic cigarettes and have a low threshold to obtain radiographic tests and surgical consultation in the case of electronic cigarette explosion in the oral cavity. As the use of electronic cigarettes continue to increase, it is likely that injuries associated with them will also increase.

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