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Radiographics. 2016 Jan-Feb;36(1):295-307. doi: 10.1148/rg.2016150114.

Blast Injuries: From Improvised Explosive Device Blasts to the Boston Marathon Bombing.

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From the Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit St, FND-210, Boston, MA 02114 (A.K.S., H.H.A., L.A.A., M.H.L.); Department of Medical Imaging, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (N.G.D.); Department of Radiology, Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, Va (J.D.Y.); Department of Radiology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Calif (J.F.B.); and Department of Radiology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Mass (A.D.S.).


Although most trauma centers have experience with the imaging and management of gunshot wounds, in most regions blast wounds such as the ones encountered in terrorist attacks with the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are infrequently encountered outside the battlefield. As global terrorism becomes a greater concern, it is important that radiologists, particularly those working in urban trauma centers, be aware of the mechanisms of injury and the spectrum of primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary blast injury patterns. Primary blast injuries are caused by barotrauma from the initial increased pressure of the explosive detonation and the rarefaction of the atmosphere immediately afterward. Secondary blast injuries are caused by debris carried by the blast wind and most often result in penetrating trauma from small shrapnel. Tertiary blast injuries are caused by the physical displacement of the victim and the wide variety of blunt or penetrating trauma sustained as a result of the patient impacting immovable objects such as surrounding cars, walls, or fences. Quaternary blast injuries include all other injuries, such as burns, crush injuries, and inhalational injuries. Radiography is considered the initial imaging modality for assessment of shrapnel and fractures. Computed tomography is the optimal test to assess penetrating chest, abdominal, and head trauma. The mechanism of blast injuries and the imaging experience of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing are detailed, as well as musculoskeletal, neurologic, gastrointestinal, and pulmonary injury patterns from blast injuries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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