UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Toxicology

Title: Hydrofluoric Acid Burns - 5% can kill

Keywords: hf, hydrofluoric acid (PubMed Search)

Posted: 2/27/2014 by Fermin Barrueto, MD (Updated: 7/18/2019)
Click here to contact Fermin Barrueto, MD

Acid and Alkali burns are all known for their caustic cellular injury to local tissue. Acid burns and specifically hydrofluoric acid has systemic toxicity. HF can be lethal even if there is only a 5-10% total body surface area burn. You can find HF in brick cleaner, glass etching and wheel cleaner. They main metabolic derangement is hypocalcemia which can lead to cardiac dysrrhythmias and death.

Treatment has ranged from IV calcium or even intra-arterial calcium in the affected limb to treat the local severe pain associated with an HF burn. Checking a serum calcium to be sure IV calcium replacement is also necessary.

Remember HF -> severe pain, minimal tissue damage, hypocalcemia, hyokalemia, dysrrhythmias