November 1962

Electrical Injuries with Special Reference to the Hand

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Northwestern University Medical School and Passavant Memorial Hospital.

Arch Surg. 1962;85(5):852-861. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1962.01310050154024

Introduction  Electrical injuries have interested physicians since 1879, when the first fatality caused by harnessed electrical enegry occurred.7 The increasing incidence, the unique nature of the lesions, and the variable and often severe sequelae, have provided an impetus for their continued study.Generally, it is believed that the degree of tissue damage in an electric injury is directly proportional to the amount of current which passes through the individual, or, as stated in Ohm's law, Amperage=Voltage/Resistance. In the majority of injuries the voltage remains constant. Therefore, the resistance provided by the skin at the point of contact determines the amount of current and extent of the lesion. This resistance varies in each instance. Such factors as thickness of the skin, cleanliness of the area, and amount of moisture present may cause skin resistance to vary from 1,000 ohms to as much as 1 million ohms.18 Thus the

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