Although shotgun and gunshot injuries are frequently grouped together, shotgun injuries are ballistically and clinically very different from gunshot wounds. Because of the differences between gunshot and shotgun injuries, the clinical records of 85 patients with 112 extremity shotgun wounds treated over a 6-year period were reviewed: 11% had Type I injuries; 30% and 59%, respectively, had Type II and Type III injuries. Overall, 59% had major soft-tissue injuries and 44% had bone or joint injuries, and nerve and vascular injuries were documented in 21% and 26%. The major cause of a prolonged hospital stay was the presence of a major soft-tissue injury, while the presence or absence of a neural injury was the most important determinate of whether the extremity would be functional. In contrast, neither skeletal nor vascular injuries resulted in long-term extremity disability. Thus, we recommend an aggressive operative approach towards early wound closure in these patients to decrease hospitalization time. Further, we believe that the operative determination of the presence or absence of anatomic damage of the nerves in patients with neural deficits is an important component in the long-term management of these patients.