Pediatric Trauma Society

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E-cigarette Explosion: A Rare Cause of Facial Trauma in Pediatric Patients
Micah G. Katz, MD; Jonathan R. Skirko, MD; Stephen J. Fenton, MD; Katie W. Russell, MD
University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

Background: The use of e-cigarettes, or "vape pens" has seen a four-fold increase in the pediatric population over the last 5 years (CDC). E-cigarettes are powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that are prone to explosion. Examples of soft tissue and burn injuries have been reported, but few on extensive facial trauma secondary to e-cigarette explosion (Vaught et al., 139), and none in the pediatric literature.

Methods: We review a case after e-cigarette explosion, seen at our level 1 pediatric trauma center.

Results: A 17 year-old presented after his e-cigarette exploded. On exam his left central incisor was displaced with exposed root, floor of mouth lacerated, with step off defects in the right and left symphyseal regions. CT demonstrated a fracture of the mandibular body with displacement of bone fragments at the alveolar ridge, and disruption of the left central and lateral incisors. Two days after injury, he underwent debridement, dental extraction, closure of intraoral and cutaneous wounds, and ORIF of the mandibular fracture. The patient has since recovered well.

Conclusions: This case represents the first of its kind in the pediatric population and demonstrates that e-cigarette explosions can cause serious traumatic injuries. Clinicians should have a low threshold for CT when treating these injuries. The risk of e-cigarette explosions are not well-known and we should advocate for warnings in places where e-cigarettes are purchased.

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