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Burn injury from filling balloons with nitrous oxide


We present the case of a female teenager who sustained nitrous oxide burns to the medial aspect of both thighs from contact with a nitrous oxide canister being used to fill balloons. There was a delay in presentation as the injury was not initially recognised. These burns were initially assessed as being superficial partial-thickness burns but took a prolonged time to heal despite regular wound care. This was complicated by a lack of adherence to recommended treatment for much of the patient care as well as the patient testing positive for COVID-19 during their management, which prevented surgery and significantly extended time to healing. While small numbers of similar cases have been previously described this is the first reported case outside of the Netherlands and in a child. Being aware of such cases ensures early referral to specialist burn care for appropriate management to give patients the best possible outcome.

  • trauma
  • medical-surgical nursing
  • paediatrics
  • drug misuse (including addiction)
  • plastic and reconstructive surgery

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