A High-Speed Bullet, Then 'Ghastly' Injuries

Trauma surgeons describe the 'haunting' wounds they've seen from assault-style rifles
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2018 11:00 AM CST
Surgeons Talk 'Ghastly' Damage From Assault- Style Rifles
"These weapons are meant to kill people," one doctor tells the "New York Times."   (Getty Images/InkkStudios)

While the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has caused horror nationwide, only a few have actually seen the damage wrought to victims' bodies by an assault-style rifle. The New York Times talks to five trauma surgeons from all parts of the US, all "haunted by their experiences confronting injuries so dire they struggle to find words to describe them." And yet they come up with the words for the Times, with Dr. Jeremy Cannon of U of Penn's Perelman School of Medicine deeming such an injury "a ghastly thing to see." Dr. Lillian Liao of UT Health San Antonio talks of how "muscles and skin and fat surrounding skin can be sheared off," while Dr. Jeffrey Kerby of the University of Alabama at Birmingham tells of how a high-velocity bullet made just a tiny hole going into a victim's leg, but left his inner thigh "completely blown out."

What determines how bad a person's injuries are from such a weapon depends on a variety of factors, including where the bullet hits, as well as what it's made of, its mass, and its velocity. HuffPost's Highline produced a similar story from trauma surgeons in Philly who see all kinds of gunshot wounds, while the Atlantic talked to a Florida radiologist who reviewed the CT scan of one of the Parkland shooting victims. "The organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, and was bleeding extensively," Heather Sher writes. "How could a gunshot wound have caused this much damage?" UAB's Dr. Kerby notes he used to only see wounds from guns like this when he served in the military, though now such victims have come into his operating room in Birmingham. More from other trauma surgeons here. (More AR-15 rifle stories.)

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