Epidemiology of penetrating injuries in the United Kingdom: A systematic review.

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Penetrating injuries account for a significant number of deaths in the United Kingdom (UK) annually. Numerous articles have examined the epidemiology of penetrating trauma in various areas of the UK. This article aimed to systematically review the current literature and evaluate the incidence and mortality of penetrating injury according to region in the UK.


A systematic literature search was performed using MEDLINE® (1946 to June 2016), EMBASE® (1974 to June 2016), and PsycINFO® (1806 to June 2016) databases. The following keywords were used in combination with Boolean operators: "epidemiology", "incidence", "frequency", "pattern", "distribution"; "penetrating"; "injuries", "injury", "trauma"; "United Kingdom", "UK", "England", "Scotland", "Wales", "London".


Eleven relevant studies were identified across five regions of the UK. Study periods ranged from 3 months to 16 years and encompassed between 343 and 127,191 patients. Relative incidence within individual studies ranged from 0.3% (Midlands) to 21.0% (London) and mortality ranged from 0.5% (London) to 15.4% (Midlands). The majority of patients were young males.


An extensive range of incidence and mortality rates were observed between studies in all regions. This was largely dependent on the study population under review. London was found to have the highest incidence of penetrating injuries, however these studies tended to focus on populations of trauma patients. The high proportion of male victims may reflect the risk of becoming involved in gangs and violence.


Our ambiguous results indicate the need for further work directed towards the epidemiology of penetrating injuries within regional trauma networks.

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