Thermal Shell Fragment Craniofacial Injury: Biophysics, Pathophysiology, and Management

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This article aims to bring attention to unique risks and burns by thermal shell fragment craniofacial soft tissue injury. Hot shrapnel may inflict burns to major vessel walls and lead to life-threatening hemorrhaging or death, which adds a new challenge for craniofacial surgeons. Morbidity of thermal deep tissue may lead to deep tissue necrosis and infection.

Thermal energy (TE) physics, biophysics, and pathophysiological effects relate directly to the amount of heat generated from shell casing detonation, which transfers to skin, deep tissue, as well as brain and leads to life-threatening burning of organs; this is different from shrapnel kinetic energy injury.

The unprecedented increase in using a large range of explosives and high-heat thermobaric weapons contributes to the superfluous and unnecessary suffering caused by thermal injury wounds.

Surgeons and medics should recognize that a surprising amount of TE can be found in an explosion or detonation of a steel-encased explosive, resulting in TEs ranging from 400 F up to 1000 F.

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