Unusual trajectory of a bullet from the shoulder to the brain: an emergency department perspective on finding a missing bullet

Document Type



Emergency Medicine


Terminal ballistics continues to struggle with bullet trajectory reconstruction and interpretation. This is a case of a young man presented with a very unusual trajectory of a bullet from the left shoulder to the brain parenchyma. The single wound and altered mentation prompted a CT head and neck scan, which revealed a retained bullet in the brain parenchyma, traversing from the left shoulder, across the neck and into the brain without causing significant damage to vital organs. We managed the patient conservatively. Emergency physicians dealing with gunshot injuries should thoroughly search for the bullet in cases where only a single wound is present and the bullet is missing, and they should have a basic understanding of the ballistics to understand the mechanism and injury pattern sustained by the bullet. This atypical ballistic trajectory scenario emphasises the need to exercise vigilance in accurately predicting the trajectory when the ballistic route is unknown.


Pagination are not provided by the author/publisher.

Publication (Name of Journal)

BMJ Case Reports