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Boys go camping, get shock of their lives

Date:
September 19, 2013
Source:
American College of Emergency Physicians
Summary:
Eight-year-old twin boys, camping in a backyard tent, received penetrating blast injuries when a bolt of lightning struck a transformer near their tent, sending them to the emergency department for treatment.

Chest radiograph with “shrapnel” in the right side of the hemithorax.
Credit: American College of Emergency Physicians

Eight-year-old twin boys, camping in a backyard tent, received penetrating blast injuries when a bolt of lightning struck a transformer near their tent, sending them to the emergency department for treatment. The extremely rare case study was published online in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

"One of the boys had a missile trajectory through the lung -- very much like injuries caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) -- which we could have missed because on the outside he had only a tiny puncture wound to the chest," said lead study author Lt. Col. O.J.F. van Waes, of the department of trauma surgery at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. "His brother was also injured. What is remarkable is that they were not struck by lightning themselves, but were hit by shrapnel that went flying when lightning struck a transformer near them."

The less seriously injured brother had second-degree burns to the face and copper wires protruding from his shoulder blade which were visible in the physical exam. The other brother had a collapsed lung due to a two-centimeter length of copper wire buried in his chest. Both boys were admitted to the hospital, treated successfully for their injuries and released.

The most typical types of lightning injuries are burns caused by direct lightning strikes to the body.

"We were familiar with IED-type injuries from our deployment in the recent military conflict in Afghanistan," said Dr. van Waes. "Our experience in the military setting helped us deliver prompt treatment to a very seriously injured boy. Remember: If there is lightning anywhere near you, go indoors."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American College of Emergency Physicians. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Oscar J.F. van Waes, Pieter C. van de Woestijne, Jens A. Halm. “Thunderstruck”: Penetrating Thoracic Injury From LightningStrike. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2013.08.021

Cite This Page:

American College of Emergency Physicians. "Boys go camping, get shock of their lives." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130919105815.htm>.
American College of Emergency Physicians. (2013, September 19). Boys go camping, get shock of their lives. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130919105815.htm
American College of Emergency Physicians. "Boys go camping, get shock of their lives." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130919105815.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

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