Transcervical gunshot injuries

Am J Surg. 1994 Mar;167(3):309-12. doi: 10.1016/0002-9610(94)90206-2.


Gunshot injuries across the cervical midline are not addressed in existing trauma algorithms. A retrospective study of 41 patients with transcervical gunshot wounds was undertaken to delineate injury patterns and management principles. Thirty-four of the 41 patients (83%) sustained 52 injuries to major cervical structures. Vascular (22 injuries) and upper airway (13 injuries) structures were most commonly involved. This resulted in presentation with life-threatening problems in 16 patients (39%). The in-hospital mortality was 10%. In 30 of the 36 neck explorations (83%), the findings were positive for injuries to cervical structures. Sixteen bilateral explorations were performed; in each case, cervical injury was observed on at least one side of the neck. These results indicate that transcervical injuries are excellent markers of associated visceral injury. Therefore, a policy of mandatory neck exploration and a particularly "low threshold" for bilateral exploration are the key to managing these injuries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Airway Obstruction / etiology
  • Blood Vessels / injuries
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck / blood supply
  • Neck / surgery
  • Neck Injuries*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Wounds, Gunshot / complications
  • Wounds, Gunshot / mortality
  • Wounds, Gunshot / surgery*