II. Pathophysiology

  1. Stab Wounds (or other hand initiated projectiles)
    1. Lacerate local tissues along the weapon path
  2. Medium velocity Gunshot Wound (e.g. handguns)
    1. Can create a cavity 5-6 times the bullet diameter
    2. Yaw (rotation of the bullet on its long axis) results in greater cavitation and secondary injury
  3. High-velocity Gunshot Wound (especially >600 m/sec, hunting or military rifles, or magnum rounds with increased gunpowder)
    1. Transmits energy more broadly to more distant tissue via shock waves
    2. Results in cavity up to 30x the diameter of the bullet (depending on bullet velocity, contact area, underlying tissue)
    3. Bullets may ricochet off bony structures and fragment into multiple projectiles with individual destructive paths
    4. Injuries from semijacketed or hollow-point bullets
      1. Increases the degree of injury due to flattening on impact and increasing contact surface area
  4. Shotgun wound (360 m/sec at muzzle, but individual pellet velocity rapidly declines)
    1. Shotguns can cause fatal injury at close range
    2. Typically causes low energy impacts of "shot" at distance with each projectile embedding superficially in skin
    3. May result in Retained Foreign Body if "shot" carries with it material from shell casing or clothing

III. Approach: General

  1. Start with stabilization
    1. See ABC Management (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)
    2. See Primary Trauma Evaluation
    3. See Secondary Trauma Evaluation
    4. See FAST Exam
    5. Avoid aggressive crystalloid (risk of coagulopathy)
      1. Replace blood losses with Blood Products (order early)
      2. Blood Pressure need not be Restored to fully normal levels (mild permissive Hypotension is preferred)
    6. Hemorrhage control
      1. External pressure to sites of bleeding
      2. Consider Tranexamic Acid (start within first hour)
  2. Evaluate for extent of injury
    1. Path and velocity of penetrating object (match bullet entry wounds to bullets)
    2. Sterile cotton swab or gloved finger may be used to gently probe wound for depth (Exercise caution)
    3. Injury to vessels, organs, bone, nerve, soft tissue (muscle, tendon, fascia)
  3. Evaluate for vascular injury
    1. Hard signs (emergent surgery indications)
      1. Pulsatile bleeding
      2. Expanding hematoma
      3. Pulseless extremity
      4. Arterial Bruit or thrill
      5. Hypovolemic shock
    2. Soft signs (imaging with CT angiogram)
      1. Blood oozing from wound site
      2. Small hematoma
      3. Perfusion discrepancy (e.g. reduced Ankle-Brachial Index)
        1. Compare limbs (e.g. ankle-ankle index or brachial-brachial index)
  4. Evaluate for neurologic injury
    1. Identify distribution of nerve injury (Motor Exam, Sensory Exam)
    2. Distinguish Neuropraxia versus complete transection
    3. Consult appropriate specialty (neurosurgery, orthopedics)
  5. Evaluate for Compartment Syndrome
    1. Rare in the acute setting without vascular injury
    2. Most commonly affects the distal leg below the knee
    3. Be alert for significant swelling and pain out out of proportion to injury (cold and immobile is a late finding)
    4. Compartment pressure >30 mmHg is concerning for Compartment Syndrome
      1. Pdelta (DBP - Pcompartment) <30 mmHg is also concerning
  6. Retained penetrating objects (e.g. knives, impaled objects)
    1. Emergent surgical evaluation
    2. Leave all penetrating objects in place until surgically evaluated
      1. Risk of vascular injury or uncontrollable bleeding with removal under uncontrolled circumstances
  7. Stab Wound Repair
    1. Simple, superficial clean-edged new wounds
      1. Irrigate, debride and repair
    2. Dirty, macerated or old wounds
      1. Irrigation and repair (or packing) in operating room
  8. Gunshot Wound precautions
    1. Do not close Gunshot Wounds
  9. Shotgun wound precautions
    1. Shotgun injuries should be imaged unless unstable (consult with Trauma service)
    2. CT Angiography is frequently needed, but often nondiagnostic due to pellet artifact
    3. Higher risk of Compartment Syndrome

IV. Approach: Penetrating Head Injury (intracranial)

  1. See Penetrating Neck Trauma
  2. Imaging
    1. CT Head
    2. CT Angiogram indications
      1. Bullet trajectory approaches vessels near skull base or dural venous sinus
      2. Wound involving face or orbit
      3. Wound involves temporal region (middle meningeal artery region)
      4. Subarachnoid Hemorrhage
      5. Delayed Subdural Hematoma formation
  3. Monitoring
    1. Intracranial Pressure
  4. Management
    1. Prophylactic broad spectrum antibiotics
    2. Seizure Prophylaxis (continued for at least the first week after injury)
    3. Defer penetrating object removal to neurosurgery (risk of vascular injury or increased bleeding)
    4. Open penetrating wounds require careful debridement, and watertight dura closure (CSF-tight)
      1. Scalp Wounds may be temporarily closed to control Hemorrhage
      2. Definitive closure is by surgery

V. Approach: Chest Penetrating Trauma

  1. Evaluation
    1. FAST Exam is highest yield (Pericardial Effusion, Pneumothorax, Hemothorax, intraabdominal bleeding)
    2. Chest imaging (Chest XRay or CT Chest) for negative FAST Exam in a stable patient
      1. Repeat in Chest XRay in 1 hour if initially non-diagnostic (previously 3-6 hours was recommended)
      2. Berg (2013) World J Surg 37(6):1286-90 +PMID:23536101 [PubMed]
      3. Seamon (2008) J Trauma 65(3): 549-53 +PMID:18784567 [PubMed]
  2. Management
    1. Decompress Hemothorax or Pneumothorax (Ultrasound is sufficient to make diagnosis)
    2. Emergent sternotomy in operating room for Pericardial Effusion
    3. Immediate Emergency Thoracotomy for Pericardial Effusion and loss of pulses

VI. Approach: Abdomen and pelvis Penetrating Trauma

  1. Stab Wounds most commonly injure liver, Small Bowel, diaphragm and colon
  2. Evaluation
    1. FAST Exam
      1. Positive intraabdominal blood in Penetrating Trauma is sufficient surgery indication
    2. CT Abdomen and Pelvis with IV contrast
      1. Best for ruling-in surgical abdominal conditions of solid organs in the upper quadrants
      2. Test Sensitivity is not high enough for 100% ruling-out of penetrating GI tract injury
        1. Penetrating abdominal injuries evident on CT are typically also symptomatic
        2. Contrast with gun shot wounds which are well evaluated with CT imaging
    3. Diagnostic Peritoneal Lavage
      1. Used historically, but most U.S. Trauma Centers do not perform now
    4. Local wound exploration
      1. Typically requires local anesthetic and may require Sedation
      2. Evaluate for penetration of anterior fascia and observe if breached
  3. Pregnancy
    1. Gravid, muscular Uterus absorbs considerable energy from Penetrating Trauma
    2. Pregnant women tend to sustain less intrabdominal bowel injury than nonpregnant patients
    3. Fetal injury and death from penetrating Abdominal Trauma is common
  4. Management
    1. Emergent laparotomy for peritonitis, unreliable examination or evisceration
    2. Observe for 12-24 hours and surgery for Tachycardia, increasing Leukocytosis or increasing pain

VII. Approach: Extremity Penetrating Trauma

  1. Exam
    1. Remove all clothing and thoroughly examine injured extremity
    2. Complete extremity neurovascular exam
  2. Diagnostics
    1. Extremity XRay
    2. Arterial Pressure Index (API)

VIII. References

  1. Spangler and Inaba in Herbert (2017) EM:Rap 17(5): 7-8
  2. Spangler and Inaba in Herbert (2016) EM:Rap 16(7):14-5
  3. (2008) ATLS, American College Surgeons, Chicago, p. 113-4, 148-9, 287-8
  4. Hicks and Orman in Herbert (2016) EM:Rap 16(4): 9-11

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Ontology: Gunshot wound (C0043252)

Definition (MSH) Disruption of structural continuity of the body as a result of the discharge of firearms.
Concepts Injury or Poisoning (T037)
MSH D014948
ICD10 W34.00
SnomedCT 283545005, 56768003
LNC LA17212-4
English Gunshot Wounds, Wounds, Gunshot, Gunshot Wound, Wound, Gunshot, GSW - Gun shot wound, Gun shot wound (disorder), Gunshot wound (disorder), Gun shot wound, gunshot wound (diagnosis), gunshot wound, Gunshot wound NOS, Wounds, Gunshot [Disease/Finding], gunshot, gunshot injury, gunshot injuries, gunshot wounds, Gunshot wounds, Gunshot wound (morphologic abnormality), Gunshot wound, NOS, Gunshot wound
Italian Ferita da arma da fuoco, Ferite da arma da fuoco
Japanese 銃創, ジュウソウ
Swedish Skottskador
Finnish Ampumahaavat
Russian RANY OGNESTREL'NYE, РАНЫ ОГНЕСТРЕЛЬНЫЕ
Czech Střelná rána, střelné rány, rány střelné, střelná poranění, vulnus sclopetarium, střelná rána
Croatian RANE, STRIJELNE
Polish Rany postrzałowe
Hungarian Lőtt seb
Norwegian Skuddsår, Skuddskader
Spanish Heridas Balísticas, Heridas de Bala, herida de arma de fuego (trastorno), herida de arma de fuego, herida de bala, herida por arma de fuego (anomalía morfológica), herida por arma de fuego, herida por disparo de arma de fuego (anomalía morfológica), herida por disparo de arma de fuego, Herida por arma de fuego, Heridas por Arma de Fuego
Portuguese Ferimentos Balísticos, Ferimentos de Bala, Ferimentos a Bala, Ferimento de tiro de bala, Ferimentos por Arma de Fogo
Dutch geweerschotwonde, Schotverwondingen, Verwonding, schot-, Verwondingen, schot-
French Plaie par arme à feu, Blessures par balle, Plaies par arme à feu, Plaies par balle
German Schusswunde, Verletzungen, Schuß-

Ontology: Wounds, Penetrating (C0043254)

Definition (MSH) Wounds caused by objects penetrating the skin.
Concepts Injury or Poisoning (T037)
MSH D014950
SnomedCT 134222005, 262560006, 103612001, 43892002
English Penetrating Wound, Penetrating Wounds, Wounds, Penetrating, Wound, Penetrating, Penetrating - wound, penetrating wound, penetrating wound (physical finding), wound penetrating, Wounds, Penetrating [Disease/Finding], injuries penetrating, injury penetrating, penetrating wounds, penetrating injury, Penetrating wounds, Penetrating wound, Penetrating injury, Penetrating wound (disorder), Penetrating wound (morphologic abnormality), penetrating; wound, Penetrating - wound (morphologic abnormality)
Swedish Sår, penetrerande
Finnish Penetroivat haavat
Russian RANY PRONIKAIUSHCHIE, РАНЫ ПРОНИКАЮЩИЕ
Croatian RANE, PENETRIRAJUĆE
French Blessures perforantes, Blessures pénétrantes, Plaies perforantes, Plaies par pénétration, Plaies pénétrantes
Polish Rany drążące
Czech řezné rány, penetrující rány, rány penetrující
Norwegian Penetrerende sår, Skader som bryter gjennom huden, Sår som bryter gjennom huden, Penetrerende skader
Dutch penetrerend; wond, Open wond, Open wonden, Wond, open, Wonden, open
Spanish herida penetrante (anomalía morfológica), herida penetrante (trastorno), herida penetrante, Heridas Penetrantes
German Verletzungen, penetrierende
Italian Ferite penetranti
Portuguese Ferimentos Penetrantes

Ontology: Wounds, Stab (C0043255)

Definition (MSH) Penetrating wounds caused by a pointed object.
Concepts Injury or Poisoning (T037)
MSH D014951
SnomedCT 425322008, 283445007, 42577003
English Stab Wounds, Wound, Stab, Stab Wound, Stab wound (disorder), Wounds, Stab [Disease/Finding], knife wounds, stab wounds, knife wound, stabbing wounds, stab wound, Wounds, Stab, Stab wounds, Stab wound, Stab wound (morphologic abnormality)
Swedish Stickskador
Spanish herida por puñalada (trastorno), herida por puñalada, Herida por puñalada, herida por arma blanca (trastorno), herida por arma blanca (anomalía morfológica), herida por arma blanca, herida punzante, puñalada, Heridas Punzantes
Finnish Pistohaavat
Russian RANY KOLOTYE, РАНЫ КОЛОТЫЕ
Dutch steekwonde, Steekwond, Steekwonden, Wond, steek-, Wonden, steek-
Portuguese Ferida perfurante, Ferimentos Perfurantes
Italian Ferita penetrante, Ferite da coltello
German Stichwunde, Stichwunden, Verletzungen, Stich-
French Plaie par arme blanche, Blessures par arme blanche, Plaies par arme blanche
Japanese 刺創, シソウ
Czech Rána bodná, bodná rána, poranění bodné, bodné rány, vulnus punctum
Polish Rany kłute
Hungarian Vulnus punctum
Norwegian Knivsår, Stikkskader, Knivskader, Knivstikkskader

Ontology: Bullet wound (C0433069)

Concepts Injury or Poisoning (T037)
SnomedCT 262574004
English bullet wound, bullet wounds, Bullet wound (disorder), Bullet wound
Spanish herida de bala (trastorno), herida de bala

Ontology: Missile wound (C1265682)

Concepts Injury or Poisoning (T037)
SnomedCT 262572000, 125197002
English Missile injury, Missile injury (disorder), Missile wound (morphologic abnormality), Missile wound
Spanish herida por proyectil (anomalía morfológica), herida por proyectil, lesión de misil (trastorno), lesión de misil

Ontology: Penetrating injury by knife (C1960081)

Concepts Injury or Poisoning (T037)
SnomedCT 426246007
English Penetrating injury by knife (disorder), Penetrating injury by knife
Spanish lesión penetrante por cuchillo, lesión penetrante por cuchillo (trastorno)