Worldwide, electrical burns (EB) in children up to 16 years of age account for 2-6% of burns admissions. EB may be low voltage (LV) or high voltage (HV). At least 10% of the South Africans live in informal dwellings with no amenities, thus access to electricity may be illegally improvised from established infrastructure.
Aim of the Study:
To describe the epidemiology, presentation and management of EB injuries experienced by children presenting to a single-centre Paediatric Burns Unit (PBU).
A retrospective review of children up to 10 years of age, admitted to the Paediatric Burns Unit with EB, between September 2013 and August 2016 was performed.
103 cases of EB from a total of 1449 burns admissions, were identified. 91% were LV injuries with no mortalities, a male:female ratio of 3:1 and affected total body surface area (TBSA) of 0-15% (mean 2,45%). 9% were HV injuries with 6 mortalities, a male:female ratio of 8:1 and affected TBSA of 4%-76% (mean 36%). Mean age was 4.5 years with SD of 31 months. 56% came from areas with no formal household electrification. 81% of injuries were caused by outside wires and other illegal installations. There was a decreased frequency of injuries during winter. 73% had biochemistry derangements, 4% electrocardiogram abnormalities, and 5% experienced haematuria. Length of stay was 1-80 days (median of 2 days). 15% required various surgical interventions. There was no medical long-term follow-up after wound healing.