Surgical Reconstruction of Attempted Suicide Charcoal Burns

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Burning charcoal in an enclosed space is now the second most-common method of committing suicide in Hong Kong. When the suicide is unsuccessful, the patients can still sustain extensive tissue destruction from both direct and indirect thermal burns. We report a series of three patients who sustained deep injuries that, after débridement, left exposed bones and joints needing acute coverage. Free tissue transfer was required in each case to close the wounds. This short series illustrates the extensive destruction that can occur from both contact burns and radiant heat injury and the reconstructive challenges that can result. Of particular note was that serial débridment was necessary in the radiant heat injury because of the evolving and more extensive nature of the wound.

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