JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Full and Partial Thickness Burns from Spontaneous Combustion of E-Cigarette Lithium-Ion Batteries with Review of Literature

Daniela Treitl, Rachele Solomon, Dafney L Davare, Rafael Sanchez, Chauniqua Kiffin
Journal of Emergency Medicine 2017, 53 (1): 121-125
28501385

BACKGROUND: In recent years, the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) has increased worldwide. Most electronic nicotine delivery systems use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which are relatively safe, but in rare cases these batteries can spontaneously combust, leading to serious full and partial thickness burn injuries. Explosions from lithium-ion batteries can cause a flash fire and accelerant-related burn injuries.

CASE REPORT: A retrospective chart review was conducted of 3 patients with lithium-ion battery burns seen at our Level I community-based trauma center. Clinical presentation, management, and outcome are presented. All 3 patients sustained burn injuries (total body surface area range 5-13%) from the spontaneous combustion of lithium-ion batteries used for e-cigarettes. All patients were treated with debridement and local wound care. All fully recovered without sequelae. WHY SHOULD AN EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN BE AWARE OF THIS?: Emergency physicians can expect to treat burn cases due to spontaneous lithium-ion battery combustion as e-cigarette use continues to increase. The cases presented here are intended to bring attention to lithium-ion battery-related burns, prepare physicians for the clinical presentation of this burn mechanism, and facilitate patient education to minimize burn risk.

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