Intravenous magnesium in the treatment of hydrofluoric acid burns in rats

Ann Emerg Med. 1994 Mar;23(3):464-9. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(94)70064-8.


Study objective: To gather preliminary data on the safety and efficacy of IV magnesium in a rat model of hydrofluoric acid burns.

Model: Forty-seven anesthetized male rats (200 to 300 g) received a standardized burn with 52% hydrofluoric acid.

Interventions: Animals were anesthetized with 30 to 50 mg/kg ketamine IM and 1 to 3 mg/kg xylazine IM. A standardized chemical burn was created by topical application of 52% hydrofluoric acid. The rats were divided into four treatment groups: group 1 received no treatment; group 2 received intradermal injection of 10% calcium gluconate; group 3 received 80 mg/kg MgSO4 IV; and group 4 received 160 mg/kg MgSO4 IV. After the rats were killed, the burn lesions were excised and examined by a pathologist to determine the grade of burn (which was equal to the clinical degree of burn).

Measurements and main results: Microscopic examination of the burns revealed differences among the four groups. Five of 13 group 1 rats (37%) died within 24 hours of burn initiation. Of group 1 survivors, 50% had grade 2 burns, and the other 50% had grade 3 burns. In group 2, eight of 11 rats (73%) had grade 3 burns. Twenty-five percent of group 3 rats (three of 12) had grade 3 burns, and only 9% of group 4 rats (one of 11) had grade 3 burns. Only the difference in the rates of grade 3 burns for groups 2 and 4 was statistically significant. Although not statistically significant, burns in groups 3 and 4 tended to be smaller in diameter than burns in groups 1 and 2.

Conclusion: High-dose IV magnesium sulfate reduces the severity of hydrofluoric acid burn compared with conventional intradermal calcium gluconate therapy. Early deaths appeared to be prevented by both calcium and magnesium therapies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Burns, Chemical / drug therapy*
  • Burns, Chemical / etiology
  • Burns, Chemical / pathology
  • Calcium Gluconate / therapeutic use
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Hydrofluoric Acid / adverse effects*
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Injections, Intradermal
  • Magnesium / administration & dosage
  • Magnesium / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Skin / pathology


  • Magnesium
  • Hydrofluoric Acid
  • Calcium Gluconate