Ballistic injuries in the emergency department

Emerg Med Pract. 2011 Dec;13(12):1-30; quiz 31.


According to 2007 data, gunshot wounds from homicides, suicides, and accidents caused 31,000 deaths in the United States, with even higher numbers of serious, nonfatal injuries. In recent years, new evidence on effective treatment of patients with gunshot wounds has come from military settings and is being adapted for civilian emergency departments (EDs). Effective, evidence-based management of ballistic injuries in the ED is vital. This issue reviews the physics of ballistics as it relates to the tracts and patterns of tissue injury caused by different types of firearms and missiles, and it takes a regional approach to reviewing the current evidence for managing gunshot wounds to the head, neck, thorax, abdomen, genitourinary (GU) system, extremities, and soft tissues. Current guidelines as well as new research and evidence regarding fluid resuscitation, airway management, evaluation strategies, drug therapies, and documentation are discussed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Forensic Ballistics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Wounds, Gunshot* / diagnosis
  • Wounds, Gunshot* / physiopathology
  • Wounds, Gunshot* / therapy