Regional intravenous infusion of calcium gluconate for hydrofluoric acid burns of the upper extremity

A Graudins, M J Burns, C K Aaron
Annals of Emergency Medicine 1997, 30 (5): 604-7

STUDY OBJECTIVE: To describe regional intravenous infusion of calcium gluconate as a therapy for hydrofluoric acid (HF) burns of the forearm, hand, or digits.

METHODS: This study describes seven patients with HF burns. Calcium gluconate, 10 mL of 10% solution with 30 to 40 mL normal saline solution, was injected intravenously into the affected limb using a Bier block technique. Ischemia was maintained for 20 to 25 minutes. Therapy was considered successful if significant reduction of pain and tenderness was noted after tourniquet release.

RESULTS: Seven patients were treated. HF concentration varied from 5% to 49%. Exposure sites included the forearm (two cases), thenar eminence and digits (two cases), or digits only (three cases). Complete pain resolution occurred on tourniquet release in four patients (two with burns to the forearm, two with burns to digits only). One patient had partial relief (thenar but not digital exposure site), and two had no relief of symptoms. Intraarterial calcium gluconate perfusion was subsequently administered to the three patients with persistent subungual and pulp, or thenar pain. Recovery was complete in all cases. No adverse effects were noted.

CONCLUSION: Regional intravenous infusion of calcium gluconate should be considered a therapeutic option in HF burns of the forearm, hand, or digits when topical therapy fails.

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