Gluteal Burns from a Car Seat Heater in a Neurologically Intact Patient: A Case Report

Andrew R. Ketterer*, Christopher P. Hogrefe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Car seat heaters are an increasingly common amenity in vehicles in the United States, but they have been shown to place neurologically impaired patients at risk for significant burns. Case Report: We discuss the case of a neurologically intact and otherwise healthy 49-year-old man who presented to the Emergency Department with second-degree gluteal and posterior upper thigh burns after using a car seat warmer for 8 consecutive hours. At no point during the course of his drive did he experience discomfort beyond feeling slightly warm. The patient was treated with supportive therapy and standard wound care, and he had a full recovery after 10 days. We review the pathophysiology of burns and discuss how seat heaters can place even neurologically intact patients at risk for significant burn injuries. Why Should an Emergency Physician Be Aware of This?: Our case is the first published report of a neurologically intact patient sustaining significant burns from the use of a car seat heater. This case illustrates that burn injuries can develop after prolonged exposure even at low temperatures. Emergency physicians should perform a careful skin examination on all patients presenting with gluteal discomfort in whom a history of car seat warmer use is obtained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e107-e109
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • burns
  • case report
  • seat heater
  • vehicle safety
  • wound care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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