Pattern of injury in those dying from traumatic amputation caused by bomb blast

Br J Surg. 1994 Aug;81(8):1132-5. doi: 10.1002/bjs.1800810815.


Traumatic amputation of limbs caused by bomb blast carries a high risk of mortality. This paper describes 73 amputations in 34 deaths from bomb blast in Northern Ireland. The principal aim was to determine the sites of traumatic amputation to provide a biophysical basis for the development of protective measures. Few amputations were through joints; nearly all were through the bone shafts. The most common site in the tibia was the upper third. The distribution of femoral sites resulting from car bombs differed from that characterizing other types of explosion. For car bombs the principal site of amputation was the upper third; for other types of device it was the lower third. It is concluded that flailing is not a notable contributor to limb avulsion. The pattern of amputation is consistent with direct local pressure loads leading to bone fracture; the amputation itself is a secondary event arising from the flow of combustion products.

MeSH terms

  • Amputation, Traumatic / etiology
  • Amputation, Traumatic / pathology*
  • Arm Injuries / etiology
  • Arm Injuries / pathology*
  • Autopsy
  • Blast Injuries / etiology
  • Blast Injuries / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Leg Injuries / etiology
  • Leg Injuries / pathology*
  • Soft Tissue Injuries / etiology
  • Soft Tissue Injuries / pathology