- Although rare, there are several reported cases of e-cigarettes causing burns and fires.
- Most e-cigarettes have built-in safety measures but if used incorrectly, even the safer products can cause burns and explosions.
- E-cigarettes contain lithium ion batteries. If the battery fails it can be an extra hazard in your mouth.
This article describes the case of a 19-year-old boy who presented to a major trauma centre after an e-cigarette exploded in his face without any warning. Although an e-cigarette is considered to be a lot less harmful than conventional cigarettes, it comes with its own share of risks. This case serves as a warning that battery related explosions, although rare, are a possible risk of e-cigarettes.
In this case an otherwise healthy 19-year-old boy was transferred from a local trauma unit to a Major Trauma centre because of an e-cigarette injury.
The e-cigarette he was using exploded in his mouth. The sound of the explosion was loud enough to alert his brother. His brother immediately called for an ambulance and gave him first aid while the ambulance arrived.
Examination at the local trauma centre was consistent with the fact that he had suffered a hard and soft tissue injury to his anterior left maxilla. His vitals were normal and he was able to maintain his airway. Examination further showed epidermal burns to his surrounding face including the lips and upper chest. His upper lip sustained only minimal soft tissue injury, however, the lip had become oedematous. Signs of inhalation injury were evident, including, carbon deposits in his mouth, hoarse voice, facial and oral burns.
Doctors advised a CT scan which ruled out involvement of the head, neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis. The injury was isolated to the upper jaw. Signs of obliteration of the alveolar bone, shattering of the upper left central and lateral incisors and associated root fractures were noted. Similarly, the gingivae and oral mucosa were both burned and lacerated, however, the continuity of the lip was preserved. CT scan further showed that the bony injury was restricted to the lower jaw with no involvement of the nasal floor or aerodigestive tract.
He was transferred to the Major Trauma Centre within 90 minutes of the incident.
The patient remained stable throughout. He was reviewed by the oral and maxillofacial team before being transferred to the intensive care unit. Doctors debrided the comminuted maxillary fracture the following day with removal of four teeth and closure of intraoral wounds. He was extubated and discharged after 24 hours. Doctors prescribed broad-spectrum antibiotics for 5 days and advised a soft diet. He was recommended a follow-up by the oral and maxillofacial team and his dentist for rehabilitation.
Maxillofacial injury related to an exploding e-cigarette https://casereports.bmj.com/content/14/1/e239677.full