Intestinal injury associated with low-voltage electrocution

J Trauma. 1981 Mar;21(3):246-50. doi: 10.1097/00005373-198103000-00011.


A 16-month-old girl suffered low-voltage electrocution from a hairdryer while playing in the bathtub. At exploratory laparotomy about 18 hours postinjury because of distention and persistent, unexplained acidosis, a 1.5-cm diameter necrotic lesion in the terminal ileum surrounded by multiple superficial serosal burns and a 1.5 x 1.0 cm eschar in the mid-transverse colon were found. The lesion in the small intestine was resected with wide margins and the colon lesion exteriorized. The child ultimately expired 12 hours after surgery from recurrent cardiac arrest. Abdominal visceral injury associated with major electrical injury is reviewed. Although the colon is probably the most frequently injured, the esophagus, pancreas, gallbladder, and small intestine have also been reported as directly injured by electric current. The importance of meticulous examination of the abdominal contents at laparotomy is stressed. Lesions of the small intestine should be resected with wide margins when possible and lesions of the colon resected with a colostomy of the injured segment exteriorized.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Baths / adverse effects
  • Burns, Electric / complications*
  • Colon / injuries*
  • Colon / surgery
  • Colonic Diseases / etiology*
  • Colonic Diseases / surgery
  • Electric Injuries / complications*
  • Female
  • Heart Arrest / etiology
  • Humans
  • Ileal Diseases / etiology*
  • Ileal Diseases / surgery
  • Ileum / diagnostic imaging
  • Ileum / injuries*
  • Ileum / surgery
  • Infant
  • Laparotomy
  • Radiography