Acute Care Surgery| Volume 276, P251-255, August 2022

Adolescent Vaping-Associated Trauma in the Western United States

Published:April 05, 2022DOI:


      • Vaping is prevalent in the adolescent population.
      • In addition to lung disease, explosion from vaping devices can cause serious physical trauma.
      • We need to work to reduce adolescent vaping.



      Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are handheld, battery-powered vaporizing devices. It is estimated that more than 25% of youth have used these devices recreationally. While vaping-associated lung injury is an increasingly recognized risk, little is known about the risk of traumatic injuries associated with e-cigarette malfunction.


      A multi-institutional retrospective study was performed by querying the electronic health records at nine children's hospitals. Patients who sustained traumatic injuries while vaping from January 2016 through December 2019 were identified. Patient demographics, injury characteristics, and the details of trauma management were reviewed.


      15 children sustained traumatic injuries due to e-cigarette explosion. The median age was 17 y (range 13-18). The median injury severity score was 2 (range 1-5). Three patients reported that their injury coincided with their first vaping experience. Ten patients required hospital admission, three of whom required intensive care unit admission. Admitted patients had a median length of stay of 3 d (range 1-6). The injuries sustained were: facial burns (6), loss of multiple teeth (5), thigh and groin burns (5), hand burns (4), ocular burns (4), a radial nerve injury, a facial laceration, and a mandible fracture. Six children required operative intervention, one of whom required multiple operations for a severe hand injury.


      In addition to vaping-associated lung injury, vaping-associated traumatic injuries are an emerging and worrisome injury pattern sustained by adolescents in the United States. This report highlights another means by which e-cigarettes pose an increasing risk to a vulnerable youth population.


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