Mechanisms of burn injury secondary to airbag deployment

Ann Plast Surg. 1997 Aug;39(2):111-3. doi: 10.1097/00000637-199708000-00001.


The efficacy of airbags as a vital, supplemental restraining device has been proven by their role in diminishing the rate of fatalities and severity of injury in motor vehicle crashes. Unfortunately, as with any developing technology, deployment of the airbag itself has caused some new problems. Most airbag-related injuries are minor and, surprisingly, more than 5% are burns typically involving the upper extremity or head and neck. These are a result of the high temperature of the gases released during inflation or of direct contact with the corrosive alkaline plume created as a combustion by-product. Fortunately, these are superficial burns that usually require only expectant treatment, but a high degree of suspicion in these circumstances is needed to make the proper diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Air Bags / adverse effects*
  • Arm Injuries / etiology*
  • Burns / etiology*
  • Burns, Chemical / etiology*
  • Chin / injuries
  • Contusions / etiology
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / etiology*
  • Facial Injuries / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans