Iatrogenic Full-Thickness Frostbite Injury Caused by the Use of a Conductive Cooling Device

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Abstract

Reports of iatrogenic cold thermal injuries are rare in the literature. Conductive cooling devices, typically employed for their neuroprotective effects, use conductive hydrogel pads to achieve rapid and precise temperature control approaching the level of water immersion. Despite a number of built-in safeguards, prolonged or improper use of these devices can lead to significant thermal injury. To the best of their knowledge, the authors describe the first report of a significant iatrogenic full-thickness injury caused by the use of a surface cooling system in a patient who had recently suffered a cerebrovascular accident. The patient required transfer to the authors’ tertiary burn care facility for excisional debridement and coverage with extensive split-thickness skin grafting to the chest, flank, and thighs. The grafts achieved nearly complete take and the patient was ultimately discharged to a rehabilitation facility with improving neurological condition.

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