Penetrating trauma from a gunshot wound (GSW) can cause devastating injuries. The most commonly injured organs and tissues are the intestines, liver, vascular structures, spleen, and intrathoracic structures. Evaluating injuries is difficult; it is important to determine the type of weapon, energy dissipated from the weapon, firing range of the weapon at the time of injury, and characteristics of the injured tissue. GSWs can lead to the need for extensive debridement, resection, or amputation. Among the many complications are sepsis, exsanguination, and death.

In the United States, GSWs account for approximately 30,000 deaths a year. Approximately 57% of gun deaths are suicides, 39% are homicides, and the rest are from other causes, primarily an unintentional death. In the Unied States, 4% of the world's population possesses 50% of the world's privately owned firearms. GSWs can be perforating, when the bullet exits the body, or penetrating, when the bullet is retained in the body.

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