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<h4>Background</h4>Cerebral gunshot wounds represent one of the most lethal forms of traumatic brain injury, but there is a paucity of literature on the topic, especially from the developing world. We reviewed our experience and describe the spectrum and outcome of civilian cerebral gunshot wounds in a major metropolitan trauma centre in South Africa.<h4>Methods</h4>This was a retrospective study of all patients with isolated cerebral gunshot wounds managed by the Pietermaritzburg Metropolitan Trauma Service over a 5-year period from 2010 to 2014.<h4>Results</h4>One hundred and two patients were included, 92% (94/102) were male and the mean age was 29 years. Fifty-four per cent (55/102) of all patients were from urban areas. The mean time from injury to arrival was 6 h (standard deviation: 5) for urban patients and 15 h (standard deviation: 5.2) for rural patients (P < 0.001). Ninety-four per cent (94/102) of all injuries were related to interpersonal violence and involved low velocity firearms. Twenty per cent of all patients (20/102) had a Glasgow Coma Scale 3-8, 20% (20/102) 9-12 and 61% (61/102) 12-15. All 102 patients underwent computed tomography scans. Thirty per cent (31/102) required neurosurgical interventions. The overall mortality rate was 22% (22/102). There was a significant difference in mortality between urban and rural patients (9% versus 36%, P < 0.001).<h4>Conclusions</h4>Cerebral gunshot wounds are associated with significant mortality and protracted delay to definitive care is common in our setting. Those who survive the delayed transfer to definitive care generally do well and have reasonably good clinical outcomes.

Original publication





ANZ journal of surgery

Publication Date





186 - 189


Pietermaritzburg Metropolitan Trauma Service, Department of Surgery, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.


Humans, Craniocerebral Trauma, Wounds, Gunshot, Neurosurgical Procedures, Glasgow Coma Scale, Injury Severity Score, Mortality, Retrospective Studies, Adult, South Africa, Female, Male