INTRODUCTION: Gunshot wounds of limbs are frequent injuries especially in Western countries. They can be single or associated with other penetrating gunshot wounds, for instance to the chest, abdomen and skull. PURPOSE: We investigated the current role and usefulness of conventional radiography in the assessment of gunshot injuries to limbs because, despite major advances in diagnostic imaging, this method remains the examination of choice in this condition. We stress the valuable contribution of conventional radiography to detection of bone blow-out fractures, multifocal traumatic bone changes, bone and joint injuries, bullet retention, and finally subcutaneous emphysema. MATERIAL AND METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed 132 cases of firearm injuries of limbs submitted to radiography March 1996 to July 1999. All the patients were men ranging in age 17-66 years (mean: 35). Radiography followed a preliminary physical examination, and follow-ups were carried out in the following days after orthopedic reduction of bone fractures or surgery with metal osteosynthesis. Emergency CT was performed first when chest, abdomen, or skull were involved. RESULTS: The lower limbs were involved three times as much as the upper ones; the leg was most frequently involved (61%), followed by thigh (61%), forearm and hands (24%), and feet (15%). The right lower limb was wounded in 65% of cases, especially tibia (55 cases) and femur (46 cases). Spiral injuries to bone diaphysis were the most frequent ones, followed by mixed fractures caused by cortical bone sinking from bullet impact. Bullets were retained in 60% of cases; subcutaneous emphysema was found in 78% of cases and vascular injuries in 25 cases in relation to disarranged fractures. We observed 4 arteriovenous fistulas during 3 years' follow-up. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Gunshot wounds to the limbs need a different clinical, diagnostic and therapeutic approach than thoracoabdominal and skull injuries, which require immediate and quick diagnosis and emergency treatment. The cases with injury to a primary artery from open and splintered fractures require emergency surgical reconstruction with vascular anastomosis and reduction of compound fractures, to prevent necrosis and amputation. Conventional radiography does depict the bullet and its site, subcutaneous emphysema, blow-out fractures, and the location of bone splinters. This permits adequate emergency surgery and an efficacious orthopedic approach, as well as selection of the cases to be submitted to clinical monitoring.

The topicality and use of the radiological exam in gunshot wounds of the limbs. An assessment of 132 cases

SCIALPI, Michele
1999

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Gunshot wounds of limbs are frequent injuries especially in Western countries. They can be single or associated with other penetrating gunshot wounds, for instance to the chest, abdomen and skull. PURPOSE: We investigated the current role and usefulness of conventional radiography in the assessment of gunshot injuries to limbs because, despite major advances in diagnostic imaging, this method remains the examination of choice in this condition. We stress the valuable contribution of conventional radiography to detection of bone blow-out fractures, multifocal traumatic bone changes, bone and joint injuries, bullet retention, and finally subcutaneous emphysema. MATERIAL AND METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed 132 cases of firearm injuries of limbs submitted to radiography March 1996 to July 1999. All the patients were men ranging in age 17-66 years (mean: 35). Radiography followed a preliminary physical examination, and follow-ups were carried out in the following days after orthopedic reduction of bone fractures or surgery with metal osteosynthesis. Emergency CT was performed first when chest, abdomen, or skull were involved. RESULTS: The lower limbs were involved three times as much as the upper ones; the leg was most frequently involved (61%), followed by thigh (61%), forearm and hands (24%), and feet (15%). The right lower limb was wounded in 65% of cases, especially tibia (55 cases) and femur (46 cases). Spiral injuries to bone diaphysis were the most frequent ones, followed by mixed fractures caused by cortical bone sinking from bullet impact. Bullets were retained in 60% of cases; subcutaneous emphysema was found in 78% of cases and vascular injuries in 25 cases in relation to disarranged fractures. We observed 4 arteriovenous fistulas during 3 years' follow-up. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Gunshot wounds to the limbs need a different clinical, diagnostic and therapeutic approach than thoracoabdominal and skull injuries, which require immediate and quick diagnosis and emergency treatment. The cases with injury to a primary artery from open and splintered fractures require emergency surgical reconstruction with vascular anastomosis and reduction of compound fractures, to prevent necrosis and amputation. Conventional radiography does depict the bullet and its site, subcutaneous emphysema, blow-out fractures, and the location of bone splinters. This permits adequate emergency surgery and an efficacious orthopedic approach, as well as selection of the cases to be submitted to clinical monitoring.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11391/20916
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