Although electrical injuries (EIs) are rare traumas in the pediatric age group, they are considered one of the most devastating injuries. We aimed to evaluate the patterns and outcomes of pediatric high-voltage (HVI) vs. low-voltage injuries (LVIs), admitted to the burn center within the efforts of determining evidence-based data for contributing to burn prevention strategies.
A retrospective study was conducted on children with EIs hospitalized in the Burn Center of Adana City Training and Research Hospital (ACTRH) for eight years (2013-2020). Data including the patients’ clinical and demographic characteristics, the percentage of total body surface area with burns (TBSA%), length of hospital stay (LOS), exposure place, electrical current type, and treatment results were collected and analyzed.
EIs were detected in 57 (2.5%) of 2243 acute pediatric burn injury admissions. EIs were most frequently observed in the form of HVIs, among children within the age range of 13-18 years, mostly in residential outdoor environments, where the high-power lines still passing close to the home roofs and balconies, resulting from contact with them. Besides, with a lesser extent in LVIs, in the home environment among children under five years, which was caused by connection with substandard electrical cords/poor-quality electrical devices and inserting an object into the electric sockets. Concerning the mean of TBSA%, HVIs suffered more extensive burns than LVIs. The most frequently affected anatomical regions among HV and LVIs were the upper limb, followed by the lower limb. While superficial partial- and deep partial-thickness burns were significantly more common among the LVIs, full thickness burns were more prevalent among the HVIs. The amputation rate was 12% which only one of them was major amputation (forearm above the elbow joint). HVIs had more elevated CK and CK-MB levels than LVIs but were not correlated with ECG findings. Only one death (caused by HVI) was observed, with a mortality rate of 1.8%.
Pediatric EIs are less common than scald or fire-flame related burns in this age group but can cause significant morbidity and even mortality, especially in severe burns. It is possible to prevent possible morbidity and mortality by strengthening compliance with safety precautions, especially with parental education and raising social awareness. In this context, taking necessary precautions for passing high voltage power lines under the ground, the standardization of electrical cables by the relevant legal regulations, the use of socket covers in homes, promoting the widespread use of residual current relays and arrangements to be taken against the use of illegal electricity are among measures for the prevention strategy.