Blast Injuries Caused by Vape Devices: 2 Case Reports

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Vaporizing devices have become a popular alternative to conventional nicotine products. They are thought to be safer as they produce aerosolized nicotine powered by a lithium ion battery. Many people have used these electronic devices as a tool to quit smoking; however, the batteries can be unstable and explode.

We present 2 case reports where explosions of electronic vapor devices caused significant injuries. The first patient sustained a combustion injury to the maxilla resulting in bone and anterior maxillary tooth loss requiring reconstruction. The second patient had a severe blast injury to the hand which ultimately resulted in loss of a digit. Toxicology was consulted due to concerns for systemic absorption of metals in the soft tissue of the hand. Cobalt and manganese were initially elevated but decreased after surgical debridement. The patient did not have any systemic symptoms.

Currently, there is no federal regulation of electronic cigarettes or vape devices in the United States. With the increasing use of these devices and no standard regulations, we anticipate more blast injuries occurring in the future. Medical providers will need to be able to be prepared to manage the devastating clinical injuries that ensue.

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