Life-threatening air rifle injuries to the heart in three boys

J Pediatr Surg. 2000 May;35(5):785-7. doi: 10.1053/jpsu.2000.6079.


Air rifles, or BB guns, are generally thought of as childhood toys. Although most injuries are not serious, life-threatening events have been reported. Within a 1-year period, 3 boys presented after BB gun shots to the chest, all requiring surgical intervention for penetrating injuries to the heart. A 15-year-old underwent window pericardiotomy for hemopericardium with thrombus 24 hours after admission. Another, 5 years of age, underwent emergent exclusion of the cardiac apex for a traumatic ventricular septal defect. The third, 8 years old, had a right ventricular injury requiring an urgent subxiphoid pericardial window for tamponade. All recovered uneventfully. Increased public awareness, adult supervision, safety training, and appropriate legislation are needed to decrease the risks of these potentially lethal weapons.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Home
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Echocardiography, Doppler
  • Firearms*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Injuries / diagnosis
  • Heart Injuries / etiology*
  • Heart Injuries / surgery
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Pericardiectomy
  • Pericardium / injuries*
  • Pericardium / surgery
  • Play and Playthings*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Wounds, Penetrating / diagnosis
  • Wounds, Penetrating / etiology*
  • Wounds, Penetrating / surgery