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Gunshot injuries: A Tanzanian experience in a Teaching hospital in the Lake Zone

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Background: Gunshot injuries (GSIs) are a unique form of trauma that are on increase all over the world and contribute significantly to high morbidity and mortality. The aim of this study was to evaluate the incidence, injury characteristics and treatment outcome of GSI in our local setting and to suggest preventive strategies as well as treatment protocols. Methods: This was a combined retrospective and prospective study of GSI patients who were managed at Bugando Medical Centre from April 2006 to March 2010. Data were collected from patients’ records and operation theatre registers and analyzed using SPSS software version 11.5. Results: A total of 84 GSI patients were studied. Males outnumbered females by a ratio of 15.8:1. Their mean age was 29.82 ± 16.26 years. The modal age group was 21-30 years. The majority of GSIs (84.6%) were caused by armed robbery attacks and low-velocity injuries were the majority (61.9%). Most injuries were in the limbs (64.1%) and the majority of gunshot wounds were punctured wounds (56.5%) and lacerations (23.9%). Soft tissue injuries (100%) and fractures (45.7%) were the most common type of injuries sustained. The majority of patients (85.7%) were treated surgically. Wound exploration and debridement were the mode of treatment in the majority of cases. Wound infection (49.1%) and complications of fractures (21.1%) were the most common complications. The mean duration of hospital stay was 34.2 days (1 – 186 days). Mortality rate was 8.3%. Conclusion: Gunshot injuries are a major cause of morbidity and mortality among young adult males in our setting. Addressing the root causes of violence such as poverty, unemployment, and substance abuse will reduce the incidence of gunshot injuries in our environment.

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