Dissecting firearm injury to the head and neck with non-linear bullet trajectory: A case report

Can M., Yildirim N., Atac G. K.

FORENSIC SCIENCE INTERNATIONAL, vol.197, 2010 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier


Firearm injuries to the head and neck have a potential for fatal complications caused by damage to neurovascular structures in the region. We herewith present a case of a missile injury to the face, caused by a bullet from a rifle with high muzzle energy that slackened while penetrating a vehicle before hitting the victim. The bullet advanced through the retrofacial spaces following a non-linear course and was retained within the opposite parapharyngeal region without injuring any vital structure. The resultant damage was a 'low-velocity injury'. However, it is noteworthy that the missile had still retained enough energy to penetrate the tissue and travel in a 'dissecting' fashion. It is likely that the blunting of the missile during vehicle penetration and the compactness of the anatomical structures bordering the head and neck spaces, such as fascia and tendons, forced the projectile to follow a non-linear inter-structural path. This case yet again demonstrates that the magnitude of firearm-related tissue damage may also depend upon the shape of the projectile and confirms that the head and neck spaces have anatomical integrity rather than just being arbitrarily designated topographical areas. It has also been confirmed that non-surgical approach with regular follow-ups is a viable option for uncomplicated head and neck injuries. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.