Accidental Trichloroacetic Acid Burn in a Gynecology Office

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Trichloroacetic acid is routinely used by gynecologists to treat anogenital diseases, and accidental exposure to the health care providers may result in serious burns. This case serves to raise awareness of accidental exposure of trichloroacetic acid and describes preventive, first aid, and treatment recommendations that may limit the incidence and severity of burn injury among gynecologists.

CASE:

A 32-year-old female gynecologist incurred a deep second-degree, 12×14–cm, work-related chemical burn by unintentionally spilling a container of approximately 20 mL of 80% trichloroacetic acid onto her right thigh during an outpatient procedure. First aid included removal of her soaked clothing, 5 minutes of soap and cold water irrigation, and liberal placement of petroleum-based ointment onto the injury site. Treatment consisted of topical silver sulfadiazine cream twice a day, coverage with silver-impregnated silicone foam dressing, and a circumferential soft bandage to minimize sheer forces along the wound. A 9-month follow-up demonstrated a well-healed, mildly hypopigmented, aesthetically favorable wound with return of sensation.

CONCLUSION:

Accidental trichloroacetic acid burns are a potential hazard in a gynecology office. Health care workers should be familiar with prevention, first aid, and appropriate treatment that often can result in acceptable long-term outcomes.

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