A comparative audit of gunshot wounds and stab wounds to the neck in a South African metropolitan trauma service.


Introduction The aim of this comparative study of gunshot wounds (GSWs) and stab wounds (SWs) to the neck was to quantify the impact of the mechanism of injury on the outcome and management of penetrating neck injury (PNI). Methods A prospective trauma registry was interrogated retrospectively. Data were analysed pertaining to demographics and injury severity score (ISS), physiology on presentation, anatomical site of wounds and injuries sustained, investigations, management, outcome and complications. Results There were 452 SW and 58 GSW cases over the 46 months of the study. Patients with GSWs were more likely to have extracervical injuries than those with SWs (69% vs 63%). The incidence of a 'significant cervical injury' was almost twice as high in the GSW cohort (55% vs 31%). For patients with transcervical GSWs, this increased to 80%. The mean ISS was 17 for GSW and 11 for SW patients. Those in the GSW cohort presented with threatened airways and a requirement for an emergency airway three times as often as patients with SWs (24% vs 7% and 14% vs 5% respectively). The incidence among GSW and SW patients respectively was 5% and 6% for airway injuries, 12% and 8% for injuries to the digestive tract, 21% and 16% for vascular injuries, 59% and 10% for associated cervical injuries, 36% and 14% for maxillofacial injuries, 16% and 9% for injuries to the head, and 35% and 45% for injuries to the chest. In the GSW group, 91% underwent computed tomography angiography (CTA), with 23% of these being positive for a vascular injury. For SWs, 74% of patients underwent CTA, with 17% positive for a vascular injury. Slightly more patients with GSWs required operative intervention than those with SWs (29% vs 26%). Conclusions Patients with GSWs to the neck have a worse outcome than those with injuries secondary to SWs. However, the proportion of neck injuries actually requiring direct surgical intervention is not increased and most cases with PNI secondary to GSWs can be managed conservatively with a good outcome. Imaging should be performed for all GSWs to the neck.

DOI: 10.1308/rcsann.2016.0181

Cite this paper

@article{Madsen2016ACA, title={A comparative audit of gunshot wounds and stab wounds to the neck in a South African metropolitan trauma service.}, author={Andre S Madsen and Grant Llewellyn Laing and John Lambert Bruce and Damian Clarke}, journal={Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England}, year={2016}, volume={98 7}, pages={488-95} }