Wound ballistics. A review of common misconceptions

JAMA. 1988 May 13;259(18):2730-6. doi: 10.1001/jama.259.18.2730.


Attempts to explain wound ballistics (the study of effects on the body produced by penetrating projectiles) have only succeeded in mystifying it. This review explains the projectile-tissue interaction and presents data showing the location, type, and amount of tissue disruption characteristically produced by various projectiles. Data on tissue disruption are presented graphically as wound profiles. The major misconceptions in the field are listed, analyzed, and disentangled. Failure in adhering to the basic precepts of scientific method is the common denominator in all of the listed misconceptions; the result has been diversion of attention from the element essential to understanding and properly treating the gunshot wound--objective evaluation of the wound itself.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Elastic Tissue
  • Energy Transfer
  • Humans
  • Tensile Strength
  • Warfare
  • Wounds, Gunshot* / pathology
  • Wounds, Gunshot* / surgery