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Year : 2006  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 124-127

Pattern of severe electrical injuries in a Nigerian regional burn centre

Department of Burns, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, National Orthopaedic Hospital, P.M.B. 01294 Enugu, South East, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
K O Opara
Department of Burns, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, National Orthopaedic Hospital, P.M.B. 01294 Enugu, South East, Nigeria

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 17319343

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BACKGROUND: Electrical injuries, though uncommon usually have devastating consequences. They are largely preventable. The objectives of the study were to highlight the pattern of severe electrical injuries seen in our environment, the management problems faced here compared with other studies and proffer suggestions for improvement and prevention. METHODS: A 10-year retrospective study of case files of patients seen with electrical injuries in our centre was carried out from January 1995 to December 2004. Case notes were retrieved and data collated from them were analysed by descriptive statistics. RESULTS: Twenty four (24) case files met the inclusion criteria and were analysed. Electrical burns constituted 2.8% of total burn admissions. Patients' ages ranged from 15 months to 42 years. Male: Female ratio was 4.8:1. Seven (29%) had high voltage injuries, mostly work-related. Sixteen (67%) had low voltage injuries while one (4%) had a lightening injury. Fourteen (58%) presented or were referred more than 24 hours post injury. Fifteen (63%) had a form of surgical treatment with wound debridement (33%) skin grafting (38%) and amputations (29%) being the commonest ones. The mortality was 12.5% with septicaemia as the leading cause of death. CONCLUSION: Late presentation of patients to specialised centres, inadequate management at the primary centres of treatment, poverty and inadequate facilities even at the specialised centres were the main problems encountered. We recommend re-education of the populace including medical practitioners, enforcement of safety rules in the home and workplaces and upgrading of our health facilities to decrease the menace of severe electrical injuries.

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