Background: High-energy penetrating injuries are increasingly common in the civilian setting. During the years 2000 to 2003, more than 70 suicide bombing attacks occurred in Israel. These were characterized by high numbers of casualties, primarily caused by blast injuries. Injury caused by a blast can be either a primary blast effect of acceleration-deceleration of the blast wave or a secondary effect of metal fragments deliberately placed in explosives, causing severe penetrating injuries. The latter type of injury may result in severe open limb fractures.
Methods: We identified and reviewed 91 patients with 117 long bone fractures caused by penetrating terror-related injuries treated in our institution during 2000 to 2003. The patients were divided according to the mechanism of injury, i.e., either gunshot injury or blast injuries; several parameters were compared.
Results: Patients in the blast injury group included more children and elderly patients than the gunshot injury group did. This group also had a significantly higher Injury Severity Score and a higher number of associated injuries, including multiple fractures and mortality. The treatment modalities for the fractures were similar for both groups, as was the fracture final outcome. Local soft tissue injury was more severe in the gunshot injury group, as demonstrated by a higher number of type IIIC fractures, as well as more nerve injuries.
Conclusion: Terror attacks may produce several modes of severe penetrating injuries causing high-grade open fractures. These should be aggressively treated by physicians remaining cognizant of other systemic and general implications of such a severe trauma.