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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Spinal cord injuries from gunshot wounds to the spine.

Although vehicular trauma traditionally has accounted for the majority of spinal cord injuries, gunshot wounds are the second most common cause. Furthermore, the proportion of spinal cord injuries caused by gunshot wounds are increasing although the proportion of injuries caused by high-speed vehicular trauma is decreasing. Gunshot wounds to the spine commonly are thought to be stable injuries. There is, however, a potential for instability if the bullet passes transversely through the spinal canal and fractures pedicles and facets. Injuries to the thoracic region of the spine are the most common, followed by the thoracolumbar area and the cervical spine. Completeness of injury is related to the anatomic region. Patients with incomplete injuries and patients with injuries in the thoracolumbar region have the greatest improvement in motor function. Approximately (1/4) of individuals are able to ambulate 1 year after injury. Surgical decompression of bullets from the spinal canal has been shown to improve neurologic recovery below the T12 level. Improvement of neurologic recovery after bullet removal has not been shown in other regions of the spine. Rare instances of late neurologic decline because of retained bullet fragments have been documented.[1]


  1. Spinal cord injuries from gunshot wounds to the spine. Waters, R.L., Sie, I.H. Clin. Orthop. Relat. Res. (2003) [Pubmed]
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