Background: Nationally, 115,000 non-fatal firearm injuries occurred in 2017, with many such victims possessing retained bullet fragments (RBFs); however, the impact of RBFs has not been well studied. Methods: An institutional trauma database from an urban, level one trauma center was queried for patients presenting with gunshot wounds (GSWs) to the ED in 2017. GSWs were stratified by the presence or absence of RBFs. Groups were compared using t-tests, chi-squared, and logistic regression. Results: Of 674 patients with GSWs who met inclusion criteria, 394 had RBFs versus 280 with no RBFs. Patients with RBFs were more likely admitted from the ED (57.4% vs. 41.8%, p < 0.001), had significantly higher rates of return to the ED within six months (30.7% vs. 18.6%, p < 0.001), and higher rates of subsequent GSW in the next year (5.1% vs. 1.8%, p = 0.03). On return to ED, 17.6% of those with a RBF had symptoms associated with their RBF. Conclusion: RBFs may represent an unrecognized risk factor for both repeat ED visits and subsequent bullet injury.
- Gunshot wound
- Retained bullet fragment