Survival following Self-Inflicted Gunshots to the Face

Adekunle Elegbede, Philip J. Wasicek, Sara Mermulla, Ryan Dunlow, Yvonne M. Rasko, Bizhan Aarabi, Fan Liang, Michael P. Grant, Arthur J. Nam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: Self-inflicted gunshot wounds involving the face are highly morbid. However, there is a paucity of objective estimates of mortality. This study aims to provide prognostic guidance to clinicians that encounter this uncommon injury. METHODS: A retrospective review of patients presenting to R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center (a Level I trauma center) with self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the face from 2007 to 2016. Isolated gunshot wounds to the calvaria or neck were excluded. The data were analyzed to determine predictors of survival. RESULTS: Of the 69 patients that met inclusion criteria, 90 percent were male and 80 percent were Caucasian, with an age range of 21 to 85 years. The most frequently seen injury patterns showed submental (57 percent), intraoral (22 percent), and temporal (12 percent) entry sites. Fewer than half (41 percent) of the cohort sustained penetrative brain injury. Overall, there were 18 deaths (overall mortality, 26 percent), 17 of which were secondary to brain injury. Independent predictors of death included penetrative brain injury (OR, 17; p < 0.0001) and age. Mortality was 17 percent among patients younger than 65 years, compared with 73 percent for those aged 65 years or older (p = 0.0001). Gastrostomy placement was independently associated with 25 percent reduction in length of hospitalization (p = 0.0003). CONCLUSIONS: Despite tremendous morbidity, the overwhelming majority of patients who present with facial self-inflicted gunshot wounds will survive, especially if they are young and have no penetrative brain injury. These findings should help guide clinical decisions for this devastating injury. CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Risk, III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-422
Number of pages8
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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    Elegbede, A., Wasicek, P. J., Mermulla, S., Dunlow, R., Rasko, Y. M., Aarabi, B., Liang, F., Grant, M. P., & Nam, A. J. (2019). Survival following Self-Inflicted Gunshots to the Face. Plastic and reconstructive surgery, 144(2), 415-422.