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Assessment and management of ballistic trauma 

Assessment and management of ballistic trauma
Assessment and management of ballistic trauma

Timothy Hooper

and David Lockey

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date: 01 July 2022

The severity of ballistic trauma is dependent upon multiple factors including bullet type, velocity, tissue type penetrated, and energy transfer. Patient management needs a considered approach with careful assessment, appropriate imaging and directed treatment of the wounds found. Triage, treatment and transport form the framework of effective prehospital care. In the emergency department a rapid primary survey is essential to reveal any injuries that need immediate intervention. The decision to operate and nature of surgery is determined by the patient’s suspected injuries, physiological condition and expertise available with some patients benefiting from damage control resuscitation and surgery. Indications for intensive care admission include the need for ongoing organ support, cardiovascular instability, and injuries that require close observation. Attention should be paid to cardiovascular status, coagulation, nutrition, thromboprophylaxis, infective issues, and management of specific injuries. Patients may require protracted hospital stays and extensive reconstructive surgery. The psychological and social impact of these injuries should not be underestimated.

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