Coronary Vasospasm after Burn Injury: First Described Case Series of a Lethal Lesion

Derek M. Culnan, Rajiv Sood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Burn injuries generate multisystem physiological derangements. The authors present a case series of three patients developing acute coronary syndrome (ACS) stemming from coronary vasospasm (CVS) over a course of 5 months. This etiology of ACS is significant as it has previously not been described in burn patients and requires a different management algorithm than vaso-occlusive disease. All patients were admitted to a single accredited burn unit. Burn mechanisms were flash burn, chemical fire, and house fire. TBSA were 20%, 72%, and 31%, respectively. Ages were 67-, 41-, and 52-year-old men. All smoked tobacco, and one had diabetes and coronary artery disease. CVS presented with acute onset ST elevations, severe bradycardia, and cardiac arrest in all. Diagnosis was made via EKG and angiography. Treatment was undertaken with nitrates and calcium channel blockers. One of the patients died of refractory disease. The authors identified CVS in burn patients with an incidence of 2% of admissions and accounting for 17% of our burn mortality during this period. To date, there is no linkage between CVS and burns described in humans; however, there is a welldescribed animal model in rats. The risk factors for CVS are common among burn patients, particularly smoking and endothelial dysfunction. CVS may be a significant cause of ACS in burn patients, and it should be considered in the setting of ACS especially with a negative angiography. Knowledge of this disease state can change burn management to mitigate risk and accommodate specific cardiac treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1053-1057
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Burn Care and Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Oct 23 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Rehabilitation

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