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Ulus Travma Acil Cerrahi Derg. 2018 Nov;24(6):587-593. doi: 10.5505/tjtes.2018.13402.

Distribution characteristics of combat-related shrapnel and relationship to weapon type and conflict location: Experience of an operational field hospital.

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Department of Radiology, Dr. Aşkım Tüfekçi State Hospital, Adana-Turkey.



The aim of this study was to investigate the characteristics of shrapnel distribution in the body and a possible relationship to the type of weapon and type of location of the conflict.


The records of 246 patients admitted to a level-III trauma center with any kind of firearm injury were examined retrospectively. Ninety patients who had at least 1 radiologically-proven piece of shrapnel in their body were included in the study. For the purposes of the study, the body was divided into 5 regions (head/neck, thorax/back, abdomen/pelvis/waist, upper extremities, and lower extremities) and shrapnel distribution was noted according to these divisions. Medical data and detailed information regarding the weapon type (long-barreled weapon, rocket-propelled grenade [RPG], or improvised explosive device [IED]), conflict location (residential or rural area), and all radiological examinations (radiography and/or computed tomography) were carefully reviewed. The relationship between these variables and the shrapnel distribution in the body was investigated.


No statistically significant differences were seen between weapon type and shrapnel distribution (p<0.05), except a significantly higher percentage of head/neck region shrapnel injuries as a result of RPG and IED injuries (p=0.002). There was no statistically significant relationship between the shrapnel distribution characteristics and conflict location, classified as either residential or rural (p<0.05).


Secondary blast injuries induced by penetrating shrapnel are the most common type of explosion- and combatrelated injuries. In the current study, a significantly higher rate of head/neck region shrapnel injuries was observed in RPG and IED injuries compared with long-barreled weapon-induced injuries. The prim.

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