Explosives create and energize particles that act as projectiles prone to further fragmentation or create other secondary missiles in the body. These fragments may result in secondary injuries. This has been repeatedly described in the orthopedic and neurosurgical literature. We report the same process for abdominal injuries after fascial penetration in the military setting. This is an observational case series study. Local wound exploration as a standard approach was performed in conscious patients who sustained abdominal wall injuries. Patients with negative physical examination were excluded from the study. An intraperitoneal injury was assumed in those with a full-thickness fascial defect, and laparotomy was performed. Twenty patients met the study eligibility criteria. Of those 20 patients, 12 had negative wound exploration and were excluded from the study, while abdominal organ injuries were found in eight (40%) patients. During laparotomy, projectile-induced injuries in a sprayed distribution were found in three (38%) of these patients. These injuries were far from the predictable trajectory and in the absence of bone fragmentation. The overall mean number of peritoneal defects was 1.7, and a mean 6.8 intra-abdominal injuries for each peritoneal defect were found when through-and-through injuries were excluded. Despite a single peritoneal defect, there may be multiple intraperitoneal injuries due to further fragmentation of the projectile. Under mass casualties, wound exploration with a full-thickness fascial defect could serve as an indicator of possible intra-abdominal injuries, and consequently indicate exploratory laparotomy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Emergency Medicine
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine