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Fackler Martin L. M.D. F.A.C.S.
Techniques in Orthopaedics: October 1995
Orthopaedic Lessons from Recent Wars: Articles: PDF Only


Experimental shots into 10% ordnance gelatin, validated as a tissue simulant by comparisons with living tissue, have allowed us to quantify the amount and location of disruption caused by various penetrating projectiles. These disruption patterns, known as wound profiles, have illustrated that “high velocity” military rifle bullets often cause no greater damage in the body than most common handgun bullets, because of their full-metal-jacketed construction, which is designed to limit tissue disruption. The wound profiles have also helped to expose and dispel the myth that bullet wounds should be treated on the basis of the projectile's presumed velocity. The problems that have plagued wound ballistics—faulty scientific method, nebulous terminology, failure of peer review in the literature, and insupportable recommendations for treating gunshot wounds in textbooks of surgery—are pointed out and remedies are suggested. The lessons learned on the battlefield and recorded in the newest (1988) edition of Emergency War Surgery are also underscored.

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