Clinical Communications: Adult| Volume 53, ISSUE 1, P121-125, July 2017

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



      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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