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J Clin Neurosci. 2011 Dec;18(12):1630-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2011.02.047. Epub 2011 Oct 15.

How bullet trajectory affects outcomes of civilian gunshot injury to the spine.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport, 1501 Kings Highway, Shreveport, LA 71130, USA.


We analysed retrospectively the effect of missile trajectory on outcomes from civilian gunshot injury to the spine (GSIS) between 1994 and 2008. Most of the 98 patients were male (88.8%). A minority (8%) of patients had multiple column injuries and a bone or bullet fragment in the spinal canal (14%). Neurologic injury was seen in 33%; and external bracing was applied to 30% of patients. The odds of bracing among patients with multiple levels of damage were 3.4 times than for patients with a single vertebral level of damage. The odds of paralysis among black patients were 6.33 times the odds among non-black patients. The odds of paralysis among patients with a fragment in the spinal canal were 12.99 times those without. We conclude that the supero-inferior trajectory affects the number of vertebral levels involved and consequently the need for bracing. The lateral trajectory affects neurological outcomes.

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