The extent of wound contamination in gunshot injuries is still a topic of controversial debate. The purpose of the present study is to develop a model that illustrates the contamination of wounds with exogenous particles along the bullet path.
Material and methods
To simulate bacteria, radio-opaque barium titanate (3-6 μm in diameter) was atomized in a dust chamber. Full metal jacket or soft point bullets caliber .222 (n = 12, v0 = 1096 m/s) were fired through the chamber into a gelatin block directly behind it. After that, the gelatin block underwent multi-slice CT in order to analyze the permanent and temporary wound cavity.
The permanent cavity caused by both types of projectiles showed deposits of barium titanate distributed over the entire bullet path. Full metal jacket bullets left only few traces of barium titanate in the temporary cavity. In contrast, the soft point bullets disintegrated completely, and barium titanate covered the entire wound cavity.
Deep penetration of potential exogenous bacteria can be simulated easily and reproducibly with barium titanate particles shot into a gelatin block. Additionally, this procedure permits conclusions to be drawn about the distribution of possible contaminants and thus can yield essential findings in terms of necessary therapeutic procedures.
gunshot; infection; basic research; radiology
Abdominal vascular trauma is fairly common in modern civilian life and is a highly lethal injury. However, if the projectile is small enough, if its energy is diminished when passing through the tissue and if the arterial system is elastic enough, the entry wound into the artery may close without exsanguination and therefore may not be fatal. A projectile captured may even travel downstream until it is arrested by the smaller distal vasculature. The occurrence of this phenomenon is rare and was first described by Trimble in 1968.
Here we present a case of a 29-year-old Albanian man who, due to a gunshot injury to the back, suffered fracture of his twelfth thoracic and first lumbar vertebra, injury to the posterior wall of his abdominal aorta and then bullet embolism to his left external iliac artery. It is interesting that the signs of distal ischemia developed several hours after the exploratory surgery, raising the possibility that the bullet migrated in the interim or that there was a failure to recognize it during the exploratory surgery.
In all cases where there is a gunshot injury to the abdomen or chest without an exit wound and with no projectile in the area, there should be a high index of suspicion for possible bullet embolism, particularly in the presence of the distal ischemia.
Lead is highly toxic to animals. Humans eating game killed using lead ammunition generally avoid swallowing shot or bullets and dietary lead exposure from this source has been considered low. Recent evidence illustrates that lead bullets fragment on impact, leaving small lead particles widely distributed in game tissues. Our paper asks whether lead gunshot pellets also fragment upon impact, and whether lead derived from spent gunshot and bullets in the tissues of game animals could pose a threat to human health.
Wild-shot gamebirds (6 species) obtained in the UK were X-rayed to determine the number of shot and shot fragments present, and cooked using typical methods. Shot were then removed to simulate realistic practice before consumption, and lead concentrations determined. Data from the Veterinary Medicines Directorate Statutory Surveillance Programme documenting lead levels in raw tissues of wild gamebirds and deer, without shot being removed, are also presented. Gamebirds containing ≥5 shot had high tissue lead concentrations, but some with fewer or no shot also had high lead concentrations, confirming X-ray results indicating that small lead fragments remain in the flesh of birds even when the shot exits the body. A high proportion of samples from both surveys had lead concentrations exceeding the European Union Maximum Level of 100 ppb w.w. (0.1 mg kg−1 w.w.) for meat from bovine animals, sheep, pigs and poultry (no level is set for game meat), some by several orders of magnitude. High, but feasible, levels of consumption of some species could result in the current FAO/WHO Provisional Weekly Tolerable Intake of lead being exceeded.
The potential health hazard from lead ingested in the meat of game animals may be larger than previous risk assessments indicated, especially for vulnerable groups, such as children, and those consuming large amounts of game.
Bullet embolism is a well-known but relatively uncommon complication of gunshot injuries.
Their rarity and the potential lack of early symptoms lead to delays in diagnosis and often in inadequate early management that can potentially result in the loss of a limb or life. We present an interesting case in which a small caliber bullet to the upper anterior abdomen penetrated the thoracic aorta and traveled to the right popliteal artery embolizing the vessel. The exploratory laparotomy failed to locate neither the bullet nor the trajectory resulting in sudden deterioration and eventual death 5 hours into the postoperative period.
We report the case of a 16 year old male who was the victim of a drive by shooting sustaining the rare but recognised complication of cardiovascular bullet embolism. He was seen as a trauma call in the emergency department and CT scanning revealed 70 shotgun pellets scattered throughout left sided sub-cutaneous tissues of the head and neck, and more significantly a single pellet within the right atrium. It is believed to have got there via injury to the left brachiocephalic vein which was demonstrated by extravasation of contrast on the CT scan. He remained stable throughout admission and the injury was managed conservatively. Serial scanning showed the pellet had subsequently migrated into the right ventricle where it has remained since, presumably having become epithelialised. This case report highlights the importance of repeated scanning for the possibility of projectile migration within the cardiovascular system in similar cases of penetrating injury.
We have investigated the role of retained bullets and other possible risk factors in the development of local septic complications after gunshot wounds (GSW) of the spine. Of 153 patients with GSW of the spine followed up for a mean of 28 months, the overall incidence of bullet wound related septic complications was 9.8%. In 81 patients the bullet was retained and the incidence of local septic complications was 7.4%. In 72 patients the bullet left the body (70) or was removed on admission (2), and the sepsis rate was 12.5% (P > 0.05). In 24 patients there was an associated colonic injury and the incidence of sepsis was 8.4% compared with 5% in the group of patients with intra-abdominal injuries but no colonic trauma (P > 0.05). The incidence of septic complications in lumbar spine injuries was significantly higher than in thoracic and cervical spine injuries (P > 0.05). We believe that in GSW of the spine, retained bullets do not increase the likelihood of septic complications.
Over the last century, only four cases have been published of patients sustaining gunshot wounds to the chest, managed nonoperatively, who eventually expectorated the bullet. We report the case of a hemodynamically stable 24-year-old male whose bullet was found in the left pulmonary hilum on admission computed tomography (CT) scan. Further workup revealed no obvious aerodigestive injury. Shortly after extubation, he expectorated the bullet onto the floor. Little is known about how to manage these stable, yet challenging patients.
Bullet; expectorate; gunshot
Operative management of all gunshot’s traumas carries a high rate of unwarranted interventions that are known to cause serious complications. Selective nonoperative management is thus being increasingly practiced which has reduced these avoidable interventions. Physical examination and computed tomography scans are most sensitive in assessing need of laparotomy. Assessment of internal injuries on the basis of an estimated bullet trajectory is often practiced but has seldom been studied. We report a case of conservative management of a thoraco abdominal gun shot patient where an estimated bullet trajectory was indicative of serious injuries. To the best of our knowledge this is the first report of a thoraco abdominal gunshot that, despite of a protracted trajectory, had no sequelae and was thus managed nonoperatively.
A 30 year old male patient having height of 180 cm and weight of 70 kg (Body Mass Index 21.6) presented with complaint of a penetrating injury at left side of upper torso. The patient had no symptoms or obvious bleeding and was vitally stable. On examination a 1 cm × 1 cm entry wound at the left 3rd intercostal space in the mid clavicular line was identified. The chest and abdomen were otherwise unremarkable on examination. The chest radiograph displayed clear lung fields. The abdominal radiographs displayed a bullet in the upper left quadrant of the abdomen lateral to the spine. The bullets estimated trajectory from 3rd intercostal space and its lodgment in the abdomen lateral to the spine indicated severe visceral injury. The computed tomography scan showed that the bullet was lodged postero-medially to the left kidney. All thoracic, intra peritoneal and retroperitoneal visceral structures were identified to be normal. The patient remained clinically and vitally stable, hence was managed nonoperatively being discharged after 48 h of observation.
From this case we conclude that decision for managing gun shot patients should be based on objective clinical and diagnostic findings. We recommend further investigation of the predictability of estimated trajectory for visceral injuries and consequent operative intervention as we found it to be misleading in this case.
Two clinical case reports of bullet embolism into the cardiovascular system are reported. The patient in the first case sustained a gunshot wound at the right clavicular area with embolism resulting in the right ventricle. In the second case, the patient received a projectile wound to the anterior right shoulder with eventual bullet embolism in the left iliac artery. In both cases, the bullets were removed successfully. Surgical intervention with the aid of extracorporeal circulation is recommended for similar cases.
To examine the relation between fragmentation of bullets and size of wounds clinically and in the context of the Hague Declaration of 1899.
Retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data on hospital admissions.
Hospitals of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
5215 people wounded by bullets in armed conflicts (5933 wounds).
Main outcome measures
Grade of wound computed from the Red Cross wound classification and presence of bullet fragments on radiography.
Of the 347 wounds with fragmentation of bullets, 251 (72%) were large wounds (grade 2 or 3)—that is, those with a clinically detectable cavity. Of the 5586 wounds without fragmentation of bullets, 2915 (52.1%) were large wounds. Only 7.9% (251/3166) of large wounds were associated with fragmentation of bullets.
Fragmentation of bullets is associated with large wounds, but most large wounds do not contain bullet fragments. In addition, bullet fragments may occur in wounds that are not defined as large. Fragmentation of bullets is neither a necessary nor sufficient cause of large wounds, and surgeons should not diagnose extensive tissue damage because of the presence of fragments on radiography. Such findings also do not necessarily represent the use of bullets which contravene the law of war. Future legislation should take into account not only the construction of bullets but also their potential to transfer energy to the human body.
Key messagesThe use of certain bullets has been prohibited in warWounds from bullets are caused by transfer of kinetic energy from the bullet to the tissuesThe relation between size of wound and fragmentation of bullets can be examined using the Red Cross wound classification system Fragments of bullets seen on radiographs of wounds sustained in wars do not necessarily represent large wounds or the use of illegal bulletsExisting legislation on the construction of bullets should be supplemented by legislation on how much energy is transferred to tissues
Hip arthroscopy has been shown to offer minimally invasive access to the hip joint compared with standard open arthrotomy. The use of arthroscopy for diagnosing and treating disorders about the hip continues to evolve. This study describes a case that involves arthroscopic removal of a bullet from a low-velocity gunshot wound. The patient sustained a gunshot wound that entered the abdomen and traversed the small bowel, sigmoid colon then penetrated the urinary bladder before ending up in the medial wall of the acetabulum. After surgical repair of the viscus, the bullet was retrieved from the hip joint using standard arthroscopic portals and a fracture table. A number of issues led to the decision to use arthroscopy. Most importantly was the need to minimize soft tissue dissection, which was required to access the bullet, without interfering with previous wound at the suprapubic area. The risks of potential bullet fragmentation and migration, as well as a possible abdominal compartment syndrome were considered before proceeding. Arthroscopy allowed adequate inspection of the articular surface, irrigation of the joint, and removal of the foreign body while avoiding an invasive arthrotomy with its associated morbidity and soft tissue disruption. This surgical technique afforded a very satisfactory outcome for this patient and serves as a model for others when encountering a similar injury pattern in a trauma patient. It is a procedure that can be performed safely, quickly, and with minimal complications for surgeons with experience in arthroscopy of the hip joint.
Acetabulum; arthroscopy; bullet; foreign body; gunshot; hip
Firearm injuries account for 13% to 17% of all spinal cord injuries, and are generally caused during warfare or assault with intent to kill. Spinal cord injuries caused by firearms are usually observed in patients aged 15 to 34 years old, and are especially common among men.
We report the case of a 28-year-old Iraqi man who was referred to our radiology department with lower limb paraplegia secondary to a gunshot wound. We performed 64-slice computerized tomography with two-dimensional and three-dimensional reconstruction of the thoracolumbar spine. On the two-dimensional and three-dimensional reconstructed axial images of the thoracolumbar spine, an intra-canalicular bullet nucleus was found at the mid-spinal cord at the T8 level, with no evidence of vertebral bone destruction.
To the best of our knowledge, there is only one previous report in the literature describing a case of a bullet nucleus lodged into the inferior epidural spinal canal without destruction of the vertebral bone. With the rise of violence worldwide the incidence of gunshot injuries continues to increase, and, thus, it is essential for radiologists to have a clear understanding of gunshot injuries and the findings on radiographic images.
Bullet embolization after penetrating trauma is an infrequent but important phenomenon. It presents an unexpected sequelae to the otherwise predictable injury pattern of penetrating missile injury mechanism and poses a challenging diagnostic and therapeutic dilemma. Bullets from penetrating wounds can gain access to the vasculature and migrate to nearly every large vascular bed. Patients can be asymptomatic, but the potential complications can be devastating including limb-threatening ischemia, sepsis, endocarditis, cardiac valvular incompetence, pulmonary embolism, stroke, and even death. The exact incidence of bullet embolization is unknown, but it was estimated to be 0.3% during the Vietnam War and 1.1% in the recent conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq. The scarcity of the condition and the lack of concentrated experience at any single institution contribute to the controversies pertaining to the management approach. Traditionally, surgical extraction of embolized bullets may involve difficult and invasive surgical exposures. Recent advancement in endovascular techniques provides an additional option in this treatment algorithm. In this article, we describe a case of venous bullet embolization from the left iliac vein treated by a combined endovascular and surgical approach.
penetrating trauma; bullet embolization; endovascular retrieval; interventional radiology
Removal of nanometer-sized contaminant particles (CPs) from substrates is essential in successful fabrication of nanoscale devices. The particle beam technique that uses nanometer-sized bullet particles (BPs) moving at supersonic velocity was improved by operating it at room temperature to achieve higher velocity and size uniformity of BPs and was successfully used to remove CPs as small as 10 nm. CO2 BPs were generated by gas-phase nucleation and growth in a supersonic nozzle; appropriate size and velocity of the BPs were obtained by optimizing the nozzle contours and CO2/He mixture fraction. Cleaning efficiency greater than 95% was attained. BP velocity was the most important parameter affecting removal of CPs in the 10-nm size range. Compared to cryogenic Ar or N2 particles, CO2 BPs were more uniform in size and had higher velocity and, therefore, cleaned CPs more effectively.
Nano-bullet; CO2; Supersonic nozzle; Gas-phase nucleation; Cleaning efficiency
Human consumers of wildlife killed with lead ammunition may be exposed to health risks associated with lead ingestion. This hypothesis is based on published studies showing elevated blood lead concentrations in subsistence hunter populations, retention of ammunition residues in the tissues of hunter-killed animals, and systemic, cognitive, and behavioral disorders associated with human lead body burdens once considered safe. Our objective was to determine the incidence and bioavailability of lead bullet fragments in hunter-killed venison, a widely-eaten food among hunters and their families. We radiographed 30 eviscerated carcasses of White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) shot by hunters with standard lead-core, copper-jacketed bullets under normal hunting conditions. All carcasses showed metal fragments (geometric mean = 136 fragments, range = 15–409) and widespread fragment dispersion. We took each carcass to a separate meat processor and fluoroscopically scanned the resulting meat packages; fluoroscopy revealed metal fragments in the ground meat packages of 24 (80%) of the 30 deer; 32% of 234 ground meat packages contained at least one fragment. Fragments were identified as lead by ICP in 93% of 27 samples. Isotope ratios of lead in meat matched the ratios of bullets, and differed from background lead in bone. We fed fragment-containing venison to four pigs to test bioavailability; four controls received venison without fragments from the same deer. Mean blood lead concentrations in pigs peaked at 2.29 µg/dL (maximum 3.8 µg/dL) 2 days following ingestion of fragment-containing venison, significantly higher than the 0.63 µg/dL averaged by controls. We conclude that people risk exposure to bioavailable lead from bullet fragments when they eat venison from deer killed with standard lead-based rifle bullets and processed under normal procedures. At risk in the U.S. are some ten million hunters, their families, and low-income beneficiaries of venison donations.
The use of firearms is becoming more prevalent in the society and hence the number of homicidal and suicidal cases. The severity of gunshot wounds varies depending on the weapons caliber and the distance of firing. Close-range, high-velocity gunshot wounds in the head and neck region can result in devastating esthetic and functional impairment. The complexity in facial skeletal anatomy cause multiple medical and surgical challenges to an operating surgeon, demanding elaborate soft and hard tissue reconstructions. Here we present the successful management of a patient shot by a low-velocity short-range pistol with basic life support measures, wound management, reconstruction, and rehabilitation.
Ballistic injury; gunshot injury; blast injuries; penetrating injuries; wound management; missile wounds
Vascular embolization of a projectile discharged from a weapon is a rare event. In this report a hunter's errant gunshot struck a farmer in the left chest.
The projectile was lodged between the apex of the heart and the diaphragm. The patient was treated non-operatively and was discharged home only to return to the emergency department with chest pain and subsequent identification of the projectile in the left inferior pulmonary vein. Operative management consisted of a median sternotomy, cardiopulmonary bypass, and a pulmonary venectomy.
He was subsequently discharged home and recovered uneventfully.
Gunshot injuries are on a rise in both developed and developing countries, the reason for this may be increased access to firearms. Gunshot injuries to the neck and maxillofacial region are associated with high morbidity and mortality due to the complex anatomy and presence of various vital structures in this region. It is indeed a rare finding that a bullet’s trajectory passes through the neck region and does not damage any vital structures. We present one such case of gunshot injury to the neck.
Gunshot; Injury; Penetrating trauma
We present a case of penetrating gunshot injury to the high-cervical spinal cord and describe a minimally invasive approach used for removal of the bullet fragment. We present this report to demonstrate technical feasibility of a minimally invasive approach to projectile removal.
An 18-year-old African-American man presented to our hospital with a penetrating gunshot injury to the high-cervical spine. The bullet lodged in the spinal cord at the C1 level and rendered our patient quadriplegic and dependent on a ventilator. For personal and forensic reasons, our patient and his family requested removal of the bullet fragment almost one year following the injury. Given the significant comorbidity associated with quadriplegia and ventilator dependency, a minimally invasive approach was used to limit the peri-operative complication risk and expedite recovery. Using a minimally invasive expandable retractor system and the aid of a microscope, the posterior arch of C1 was removed, the dura was opened, and the bullet fragment was successfully removed from the spinal cord.
Here we describe a minimally invasive procedure demonstrating the technical feasibility of removing an intramedullary foreign object from the high-cervical spine. We do not suggest that the availability of minimally invasive procedures should lower the threshold or expand the indications for the removal of bullet fragments in the spinal canal. Rather, our objective is to expand the indications for minimally invasive procedures in an effort to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with spinal procedures. In addition, this report may help to highlight the feasibility of this approach.
Bullet; Gunshot wound; Intramedullary; Minimally invasive spine surgery; Spinal cord
Bullet embolism, an uncommon but serious complication of penetrating vascular trauma, poses a unique clinical challenge for the trauma physician. Migration of bullets can lead to infection, thrombosis, ischemia, hemorrhage and death.
PRESENTATION OF CASE
We report a patient in whom a bullet embolized from the left femoral vein to the right pulmonary artery, a situation ultimately managed by observation alone.
Bullet embolism should be suspected when the number of penetrating entry wounds exceeds the number of exit wounds. Patients with radiographic studies showing a bullet outside the established trajectory require further evaluation. Most bullet emboli are arterial, and are generally symptomatic presenting with early signs of ischemia. Venous emboli are less common, and they are generally asymptomatic. Most venous bullet emboli travel in the direction of the blood flow and may lodge in the pulmonary arterial tree causing serious complications. Management of bullet emboli in the pulmonary arterial tree remains controversial and specific guidelines have not been clearly established. However, the available data in the literature suggest that pulmonary artery embolism can be observed in the asymptomatic patient.
Symptomatic pulmonary bullet emboli should be managed with endovascular retrieval when available or operative therapy. Asymptomatic intravascular bullet emboli may be managed conservatively as seen in our patient.
Bullet embolism; Penetrating vascular injury; Femoral vein injury; Pulmonary artery bullet embolism