Bullet embolism

J Cardiovasc Surg (Torino). Jul-Aug 1989;30(4):584-90.


Bullet embolism is a rare complication of vascular trauma. During the last ten years we have treated six patients with bullet embolism. Three patients had inferior vena caval injuries with embolizations of the bullets to the heart or pulmonary arteries. Two had infrarenal aortic injuries with embolization to vessels of the lower extremities. One patient with a shotgun injury to the superficial femoral artery and vein had both arterial and venous embolizations. The site of vascular penetration was repaired in all six patients. All peripheral arterial bullet emboli were removed except for an asymptomatic shotgun pellet in the peroneal artery. One bullet was removed from a right atrium and another from a proximal pulmonary artery. Emboli in the distal pulmonary artery branches were left undisturbed in two patients. All six patients survived without any complications. A 14-year review of the literature is presented in order to emphasize some important features of this rare pathology.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aorta, Abdominal / injuries
  • Embolism / etiology*
  • Femoral Artery
  • Foreign Bodies*
  • Foreign-Body Migration*
  • Heart*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Popliteal Artery
  • Pulmonary Artery*
  • Vena Cava, Inferior / injuries
  • Wounds, Gunshot / complications*