Digital hydrofluoric acid burns: treatment with intraarterial calcium infusion

Ann Emerg Med. 1986 Aug;15(8):890-6. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(86)80670-9.


Hydrofluoric acid (HF) produces a unique chemical burn due to tissue penetration by fluoride ion. Fluoride ion interferes with calcium activity in a variety of cell membranes and calcium-dependent processes, resulting in severe pain and deep tissue destruction. The currently accepted methods of treating HF burns include application of topical soaks or ointments with calcium or magnesium salts for minor burns and local injection of calcium gluconate for more severe burns. Digital burns also may require nail removal and direct injection into the nail bed. We present the cases of a series of patients with moderate to severe HF burns involving one or more fingers who were treated with selective intraarterial calcium infusion of dilute (1.66%) calcium salts. All patients had excellent relief of symptoms and marked improvement of the burn lesions following one to three four-hour infusions of calcium chloride or calcium gluconate. One patient required subsequent surgical intervention for grafting of a full-thickness burn, and one patient developed transient spasm at the site of percutaneous arterial line insertion. Intraarterial calcium infusion for the treatment of HF burns of the fingers provides many therapeutic advantages, including elimination of painful calcium injection directly into fingertips, avoidance of debilitating procedures such as fingernail removal, and assurance that all affected cells are receiving adequate amounts of calcium to replenish depleted stores and to complex with remaining free fluoride ion.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burns, Chemical / drug therapy*
  • Burns, Chemical / pathology
  • Calcium Chloride / administration & dosage*
  • Calcium Gluconate / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Finger Injuries / chemically induced*
  • Finger Injuries / drug therapy
  • Finger Injuries / pathology
  • Gluconates / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Hydrofluoric Acid / adverse effects*
  • Infusions, Intra-Arterial
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Time Factors


  • Gluconates
  • Calcium Chloride
  • Hydrofluoric Acid
  • Calcium Gluconate