The Pattern of Thoracic Trauma After Suicide Terrorist Bombing Attacks

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Background:The worldwide escalation in the volume of suicide terrorist bombing attacks warrants special attention to the specific pattern of injury associated with such attacks. The goal of this study was to characterize thoracic injuries inflicted by terrorist-related explosions and compare pattern of injury to penetrating and blunt thoracic trauma.Methods:Prospectively collected database of patients with chest injury who were admitted to Hadassah Hospital Level I trauma centre, in Jerusalem, Israel, from October 2000 to December 2005. Patients were divided into three groups according to the mechanism of injury: terrorist explosions (n = 55), gunshot wounds (GSW; n = 78), and blunt trauma (n = 747).Results:There were many female victims after suicide bombing attacks (49.1%) compared with GSW (21.8%) and blunt trauma (24.6%; p = 0.009). The number of body regions injured was significantly higher in the terror group compared with the GSW and blunt groups (median, 4, 2, and 3, respectively, p < 0.0001). The pattern of chest injury after suicide bombing attacks was caused by a unique combination of the effects of the blast wave and penetrating shrapnel. More than half (52.7%) of the terror victims suffered from lung contusion and 25 (45.5%) required tube thoracostomy. Five patients (9.1%) underwent thoracotomy for lung lacerations (n = 3), injury to great vessels (n = 2), cardiac lacerations (n = 1), and esophageal injury (n = 1). Penetrating shrapnel was the mechanism of injury in all these cases.Conclusions:Injury inflicted by terrorist bombings causes a unique pattern of thoracic wounds. Victims are exposed to a combination of lung injury caused by the blast wave and penetrating injury caused by metallic objects.

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