Modern, low-energy ammunition can cause deep tissue damage

February 07, 2012

Gunshot injuries are typically categorized as low- or high-energy based on the weapon's missile velocity and mass. Typically, low energy injuries are treated with simple wound care, with or without antibiotics, regardless of the presence of a fracture. In contrast, high energy injuries are treated more aggressively.

A new study, "Handgun Injuries in 2012: What the Orthopaedic Surgeon Needs to Know," presented today at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), found that modern low-energy handgun ammunition is designed to inflict significant soft tissue damage, which can cause infection and compartment syndrome (a painful condition that occurs when pressure within the muscles builds to dangerous levels). A review of ballistics data from forensic scientists and law enforcement officers in a major U.S. city police department, as well as gunshot-induced fractures from a single level 1 trauma center, found that low-energy handgun injuries have become more prevalent, and with hollow point ammunition (designed to expand when entering the body), can cause severe underlying tissue injury that may be overlooked by clinicians.

According to the study authors, orthopaedic surgeons need to be aware of this powerful new ammunition, and the likelihood that even "low energy" handguns can cause substantial bone and soft tissue injury.
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About the AAOS

With more than 37,000 members, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, (http://www.aaos.org) or (http://www.orthoinfo.org) is the premier not-for-profit organization that provides education programs for orthopaedic surgeons and allied health professionals, champions the interests of patients and advances the highest quality of musculoskeletal health. Orthopaedic surgeons and the Academy are the authoritative sources of information for patients and the general public on musculoskeletal conditions, treatments and related issues. An advocate for improved care, the Academy is participating in the Bone and Joint Initiative (http://www.usbjd.org), the global initiative to raise awareness of musculoskeletal health, stimulate research and improve people's quality of life. The Academy's 2012 Annual Meeting is being held February 7 - 11, 2012 at the San Francisco Moscone Center in San Francisco.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

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