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Lichtenberg Figures

Resnik, Barry I. M.D.; Wetli, Charles V. M.D.

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: June 1996 - Volume 17 - Issue 2 - p 99-102

The majority of cutaneous injuries seen in victims struck by lightning are superficial and heal without sequelae. Common cutaneous findings associated with lightning strike include punctate full-thickness burns, linear charring, and contact burns from overlying metal objects. Branching or ferning marks are an uncommon and unusual cutaneous manifestation. These ferning patterns are called Lichtenberg figures. Similar-appearing electrical phenomena were first noted by an 18th-century physicist of the same name. A case report with review of the literature is presented. The histopathologic features of the figures are described for the first time.

From the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, University of Miami School of Medicine (B.I.R.) and Metro-Dade Medical Examiner Department, Miami, Florida (C.V.W.); currently Chief Medical Examiner, Suffolk County, New York (C.V.W.)

Received January 14, 1995; accepted May 31, 1995.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. B. I. Resnik, Miami Dermatology Group, 7800 SW 87 Avenue B200, Miami, FL 33173, U.S.A.

© Lippincott-Raven Publishers