Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Electric Shock Underlying Cause

Electrical injuries are caused by exposure to an electrical current.

Forms of electrical current include:

  • Low-voltage alternating current:
    • 110-120 volt household current
  • High-voltage alternating current:
    • Community power lines or 220 volt household current
  • High-voltage direct current:
    • Industrial power plants and lightning

High-voltage electrical current tends to cause much more serious injuries than low-voltage electrical current. Electrical current that does not enter the body causes a burn to the skin or a mild shock. Serious injuries occur when the electrical current enters the body, passes through organs, and exits from another location. The sizes of the entrance and exit wounds do not correlate with the extend of internal injury. For example, serious internal injuries can occur with small entrance and exit wounds. Conversely, large skin wounds occur without internal injury.

Last Updated: Dec 10, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Electric Shock References
  1. Bailey B, Gaudreault P, Thivierge RL. Experience with guidelines for cardiac monitoring after electrical injury in children. Am J Emerg Med. 2000 Oct;18(6):671-5. [11043619]
  2. Blackwell N, Hayllar J. A three year prospective audit of 212 presentations to the emergency department after electrical injury with a management protocol. Postgrad Med J. 2002 May;78(919):283-5. [12151571]
  3. Danielson JR, Capelli-Schellpfeffer M, Lee RC. Upper extremity electrical injury. Hand Clin. 2000 May;16(2):225-34, viii. [10791169]
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