Electrical burns in Chinese fishermen using graphite rods under high-voltage cables.
ABSTRACT The 42 patients admitted to our Burn Center from January 1, 1994 to December 31, 2005, with electrical and fire burn injuries caused by electricity-conducting graphite-carbon fishing rods touching overhead high voltage electrical lines were epidemiologically studied retrospectively. All patients were men, with a mean age of 40.33 years. The majority of patients (59.5%) were burned with less than 10%, mostly deep burns. The hand was the predominant electricity "entry" point and foot was the most frequent "exit" point. Admissions increased from 5 in 6 years, 1994 to 2000, to 15 in 3 years, 2000 through 2002, to 22 cases in 3 years, 2003 through 2005. Spring and fall, and months May and October were times of highest incidence. The treatment was complex, difficult, long, and costly. Thirty-eight patients (90.4%) required operations, including early excision and graft (34 patients), and amputation (14 patients). Two patients had an inhalation injury that necessitated a tracheostomy and four victims had additional skin and soft-tissue injury. Thirty-two patients had a record of unconsciousness immediately after the electrical injury and atrial premature beats were a frequently found arrhythmia. A significant (P <.01) increase in serum creatine kinase MB fraction was found in 11 patients. The mean time in hospital of the survivors was 28.97 days. Acute renal failure was the commonest complication and one patient died of sepsis with giving a mortality rate of 2.4%. Caution and preventive measures are warranted while fishing near electrical wires, and improvements in electrical burn treatment are needed.