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J Emerg Med. 2017 Jul;53(1):121-125. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2017.03.031. Epub 2017 May 10.

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

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Division of Acute Care Surgery and Trauma, Memorial Regional Hospital, Hollywood, Florida; Mount Sinai Medical Center, Miami Beach, Florida.
Division of Acute Care Surgery and Trauma, Memorial Regional Hospital, Hollywood, Florida.



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.


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.


electronic cigarette burns; full and partial thickness burns; lithium-ion battery explosions

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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