Significant pediatric morbidity and mortality from intracranial ballistic injuries caused by nonpowder gunshot wounds. A case series

Pediatr Neurosurg. 2009;45(3):205-9. doi: 10.1159/000222671. Epub 2009 Jun 3.


Nonpowder (ball-bearing and pellet) weapons derive their source of energy from compressed air or carbon dioxide. Such weapons are dangerous toys that cause serious injuries and even death to children and adolescents. A retrospective chart review study was undertaken to describe nonpowder gun injuries at a southwestern US urban level I adult and pediatric trauma center. Specific emphasis was placed on intracranial injuries. Over the past 6 years, a total of 29 pediatric and 7 adult patients were identified as having nonpowder firearm injuries. The patient population was overwhelmingly male (89.7%; mean age, 11 years). Overall, 17 out of 29 pediatric patients (56.8%) sustained serious injury. Nine patients (30.0%) required operation, 6 (20.7%) sustained significant morbidity, and there were 2 deaths (6.9%). Injuries to the brain, eye, head, and neck were the most common sites of injury (65.6%). Specific intracranial injuries in 3 pediatric patients are described that resulted in the death of 2 children. We suggest that age warning should be adjusted to 18 years or older for unsupervised use to be considered safe of these potentially lethal weapons.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Firearms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Morbidity
  • Play and Playthings / injuries*
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Southwestern United States / epidemiology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Wounds, Gunshot / diagnostic imaging
  • Wounds, Gunshot / mortality*