Vitriolage by Sulfuric Acid: Unique Challenges and Considerations in Patient Resuscitation

Andrew D. D'Alessandro, Joseph R. Sikon, Aaron J. Lacy, Austin T. Smith, Karan S. Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In the United States, over 1 million burns require medical treatment each year. Chemical burns represent an infrequent but devastating percentage of all burns, which account for a large proportion of all burn-related deaths. Of the various causes of chemical burns, sulfuric acid is most commonly involved in occupational and accidental burns, and even cases of assault. Case Report: We describe the case of a 27-year-old man who presented to our Emergency Department (ED) after an assault with sulfuric acid. During his presentation, particular attention and care was given to his decontamination, airway management, and correction of life-threatening metabolic derangements. After stabilization in the ED he survived an extensive hospital admission. Why Should an Emergency Physician Be Aware of This?: Patient outcomes and prognosis after chemical burns are dependent on prompt recognition/suspicion and rapid initiation of treatment. Even with prompt treatment, severe physiologic and psychologic injuries often afflict the patient. While encountering these devastating injuries, the emergency physician must carry a heightened sense of care and protection for both patient and staff to ensure optimum outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e123-e126
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • acid
  • acid attack
  • acid throwing
  • exposure
  • sulfuric acid
  • violent assault
  • vitriol attack
  • vitriolage


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