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Wound ballistics of gunshot injuries to the head and neck.

ABSTRACT It is important for the trauma surgeon to understand the basic principles of terminal gunshot ballistics and the study of the projectile's effect on striking soft tissue. The amount of kinetic energy dissipated to the tissue is directly related to the mass and velocity of the projectile as follows: K = MV2/2. Doubling the velocity quadruples the energy, while doubling the mass only doubles the energy. A temporary tissue cavity is produced as the striking projectile compresses the surrounding tissue; the higher the energy release, the more extensive the inapparent compressive damage. The permanent cavity that remains is the result of extrusion of tissue from the pathway of the projectile. The higher the velocity, the higher the likelihood of extensive damage. If the missile expands or fragments within the tissues, more damage will occur.

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