Does a sixth mechanism exist to explain lightning injuries?: investigating a possible new injury mechanism to determine the cause of injuries related to close lightning flashes

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2012 Sep;33(3):222-6. doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e31822d319b.


Five mechanisms have been described in the literature regarding lightning injury mechanisms. A sixth mechanism is proposed in this article, namely, lightning barotrauma. A simple laboratory experiment was conducted using ordnance gelatin for ballistic studies. Lightning was simulated in a high-voltage laboratory using an 8/20-microsecond current impulse generator and discharged through ballistic gel. Temporary and permanent cavity formations were confirmed. The cavities formed were directly proportional to the currents used. Findings suggest that a sixth mechanism of lightning injury, namely, barotrauma, should be considered.

MeSH terms

  • Barotrauma / etiology*
  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Gelatin
  • High-Energy Shock Waves
  • Humans
  • Lightning Injuries / complications*
  • Models, Biological*


  • Gelatin