Emergency surgeon Dr. Katie Russell (along with Dr. Micah G. Katz) published details in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) about a patient she saw in 2018 who had a vape pen explode in his mouth.
What We Know:
- Kailani Burton heard a “loud pop” in her home to find her 17-year-old son’s vape pen had exploded in his mouth, resulting in a crack in his jaw, a chunk of bone in his jaw shattered, the loss of several teeth and a hole in his chin requiring multiple reconstructive surgeries and with more to go.
- Jonathan Skirko, a surgeon who worked on Burton’s case, said his injuries resembled that of a close-range gunshot wound or car accident. Russell explained that she had not been aware vape pens could cause these sorts of injuries which take a serious amount of force before Burton’s case.
- Russell said Burton’s case is a cautionary tale for young people who vape. “There is still a lot of scientific evidence that nicotine is not good for the developing brain. There is a real problem in our adolescent and even pediatric patients,” Russell said.
- Vaping is increasing in popularity amongst teenagers at an alarming rate. A 2018 study showed that 37.3 percent of twelfth graters in high school reported “any vaping: in the past 12 months, up from 27.8 percent in 2017.” The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) reported that between 2017 and 2018 there was approximately a 1.3 million adolescent increase in nicotine vaping.
- Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse Nora D. Volkow said “Research tells us that teens who vape may be at risk for transitioning to regular cigarettes.”
The dangers of vaping are still not largely researched but pose a large risk to the increasing adolescent population exposed to them.