Penetrating Traumatic Injuries
Penetrating trauma is an injury where an object pierces the skin and penetrates into the body or pierces an internal organ from within. The highest risk and greatest mortality rate occurs in abdominal and thoracic penetrating trauma.
A penetrating object may enter and then come out again, such as the case in a gunshot wound with an entry and exit wound. Knife wounds or any other sharp object can also cause a penetrating injury. Furthermore, a bullet, knife or sharp object may penetrate and enter a cavity and remain there either easily recognised and detected or not.
Another common mechanism for penetrating trauma includes broken bones which cause secondary injuries to internal organs. Rib fractures may cause pneumothoraxes or haemothoraxes.
Mechanisms of injuries are usually grouped based on the velocity at which they enter the body and the mount of kinetic energy that is then transferred to the internal organs and tissues. High powered rifles and blast injuries are regarded as high velocity injuries. Injuries from hand guns rifles and shotguns are considered medium velocity injuries. Where as knife and other hand held weapons are termed low velocity.
It should also be noted that the higher the density of the tissue or organ the more potential energy that may be transmitted into it – for example, the liver will absorb more kinetic energy than the fat in someone’s thighs.