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Chirurgica Taurina: A 10-Year Experience of Bullfight Injuries

Rudloff, Udo MD; Gonzalez, Victor MD, FACS; Fernandez, Eduardo MD, FACS; Holguin, Esteban MD; Rubio, Gustavo MD; Lomelin, Jorge MD; Dittmar, Michael MD; Barrera, Rafael MD

The Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection, and Critical Care: October 2006 - Volume 61 - Issue 4 - p 970-974
doi: 10.1097/01.ta.0000196871.19566.92
Original Articles

Background: Despite recent efforts to improve medical treatment for injured bullfighters, including the foundation of a scientific society for bullfight injuries, serious injuries, in particular in villages and smaller arenas, still do occur. We are not aware of any series in the English literature that aimed to study the specific mechanisms, types, and outcomes of theseinjuries.

Methods: A review of the trauma registry of injured bullfighters who suffered any type of trauma during bullfighting and received emergency therapy by the Surgical Trauma Services between 1994 and 2004 at the Plaza de Toros Nuevo Progreso, Guadalajara, Mexico.

Results: In all, 68 out of 750 bullfighters (9.06%) required emergency assistance during bullfighting. Trauma to the upper and lower extremity was most common (66%), followed by injuries to the inguinal (8%) and perineal area (7%). Extremity injuries included penetrating wounds requiring operative debridement in 64% of cases, articular dislocations in 4%, closed fractures in 4%, and open fractures in 1% of cases. Major vascular injuries occurred in 5% of the cases. Penetrating inguinal and penetrating perineal injuries were associated with major vascular injuries to the femoral vessels, necessitating operative repair in 33% of the cases.

Conclusion: A considerable risk of serious, life-threatening injuries is inherent to bullfighting. Penetrating inguinal and perineal trauma with injury to the femoral vessels represents a specific, potentially fatal injury. A low threshold for exploration of these penetrating injuries in injured bullfighters is associated with a favorable outcome. Appreciation of the unique mechanisms and types of injuries related to bullfighting should lead to target intervention and help the evolvement of improved emergency treatment in organized bullfighting.

From the Department of Surgery, Hospital Angeles del Carmen, Guadalajara, Mexico (V.G.C., E.F., E.H., G.R., J.L., M.D.); and the Department of Surgery, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, The Long Island Campus for the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New Hyde Park, New York (U.R., R.B.).

Submitted for publication February 10, 2005.

Accepted for publication September 2, 2005.

Address for reprints: Udo Rudloff, MD, Department of Surgery, North Shore – Long Island Jewish Health System, North Shore University Hospital, 300 Community Drive, Manhasset, New York 11030; email:

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.