Atypical gunshot wound: Bullet trajectory analyzed by computed tomography

Tae Ro, Richard Murray, Dan Galvan, Muhammad H. Nazim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Abstract Introduction Gunshot injuries are a result of a bullet or projectile fired from a weapon that penetrates the body. Homicide, suicide, and occasionally, accidental events are a significant cause of firearm-related injuries. In rare cases, the damage from the gunshot injury can be masked due to an atypical bullet trajectory. Presentation of case A 63-year-old male was found with a gunshot wound to the anterior left knee. Computed tomography (CT) scans revealed a bullet track extending from the anterior aspect of the left knee that traveled cephalad subcutaneously and entered into the peritoneal cavity, perforating the distal descending colon. The bullet was found to be at rest adjacent to the spleen and posterior chest wall, with no injury to the lungs, kidneys or the spleen. The patient required a sigmoid colectomy with descending colostomy and was subsequently discharged home without any complications. Discussion Intra-abdominal organ damage from a gunshot wound to the distal limb is a rare occurrence. Atypical gun shot wounds, such as this case, have the potential for multiple issues including: delayed diagnostic tests, inaccurate radiological readings, and inappropriate medical management. Conclusion If an abnormal trajectory is maintained, it is possible for a bullet to traverse half the length of the body without the patient realizing it. Accurate CT analysis and quick decisions in surgical and medical management are critical takeaways to provide quality care to patients with these injuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1473
Pages (from-to)104-107
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Surgery Case Reports
StatePublished - Aug 11 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery


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