Analysis of Electrocardiograms Associated with Pediatric Electrical Burns

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the utility of electrocardiograms (EKGs) for low-risk, low-voltage pediatric electrical burn victims. A retrospective chart review was conducted on 86 pediatric patients who presented to the children’s hospital between 2000 and 2015 after sustaining electrical burns. Variables included source and estimated voltage, extent of injuries, length of stay, high risk factors, and EKG results. High risk factors included estimated voltage > 1000 V, lightning, tetany, symptoms, loss of consciousness, or seizures. Statistical analyses were conducted. Average age was 5 years. Of those who sustained burns, 84.5% (n = 71/84) had second-degree burns ≤ 1% TBSA or less. Eleven patients had high risk factors, 12.9% (n = 11/85) and most had length of stay < 3 days (91.8%; n = 78/85). Majority sustained burns from low-voltage (< 300 V) household electrical outlets, cords, or light bulb sockets (90.4%; n = 75/83). Among patients with available EKGs, 12 had arrhythmias on initial EKG (i.e., low right atrial rhythm, t-wave inversions, sinus tachycardia, bundle branch block; 20.7%; n = 12/58). All were transient and nonfatal. The data suggest that low estimated voltage (< 300 V) electrical injuries were associated with negative EKGs; however, due to the low rate of arrhythmias, a Fisher’s exact test did not show significance, P = 0.09 (P > 0.05). Preliminary data suggest that most pediatric electrical burns are due to low voltage (< 300 V) household sources. Few have high risk factors or arrhythmias that were transient and nonfatal. These data suggest that low-risk, asymptomatic, low-voltage pediatric electrical burns may not require an initial screening EKG.

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