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An Unsuspected Cause of Meal-Time Morbidity: Instant Noodle Scald Burns

Koltz, Peter F. MD; Wasicek, Philip BA; Mays, Chester MD; Bell, Derek E. MD

doi: 10.1097/BCR.0b013e318270094f
Original Articles

Observational analysis revealed a concerning frequency of scald burns secondary to instant noodles. A literature review reveals studies with small sample sizes of pediatric populations and analysis of container engineering. The adult cohort, treatments, and short-term outcomes have been neglected. Considering these deficiencies, we reviewed our institution’s experience with burns secondary to instant noodles. Patient encounters due to instant noodle burns from January 1, 2007, through May 15, 2011, were reviewed. Demographics, burn characteristics, treatment, length of stay, number of operative interventions, and complications were analyzed. Eight hundred fifty-two patients were seen (460 were admitted) for scald burns of all pathogenesis. Of these, 121 (14%) were seen for burns secondary to noodles (63 men and 58 women). Of these, 48 were older than age 4 (group 1), and 73 were younger than age 4 (group 2). TBSA was 2.34 in group 1 and 1.64 in group 2 (P = .04). The most commonly burned areas in group 1 were extremities (n = 43) and in group 2 were chest (n = 32) and extremities (n = 31). Seven patients in group 1 and two patients in group 2 required operative intervention. Length of stay in groups 1 and 2 were 3.5 and 6 days, respectively. Noodle scald burns cause morbidity at all ages. Pediatric burns due to noodles are frequently managed conservatively but more often necessitate inpatient treatment. The nonpediatric population has larger TBSA and requires more frequent operative intervention. The morbidity of noodle burns is significant. Increased public education and container re-engineering is warranted.

From the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Kessler Burn Center, University of Rochester School of Medicine, Rochester, New York.

Address correspondence to Derek E. Bell, MD, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Kessler Burn Center, University of Rochester Medical Center, 601 Elmwood Ave., Rochester NY 14620. Email:

© 2013 The American Burn Association