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01.12.2018 | Case report | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Surgery 1/2018

Penetrating aortic injury left untreated for 20 days: a case report

BMC Surgery > Ausgabe 1/2018
Alessia Giaquinta, Dovile Mociskyte, Giuseppe D’Arrigo, Giuseppe Barbagallo, Francesco Certo, Massimiliano Veroux, Pierfrancesco Veroux
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12893-018-0337-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Penetrating aortic trauma remains one of the most challenging injuries with a high mortality rate if left untreated, or if the surgical treatment is delayed. We present an uncommon case of a late diagnosed abdominal firearm injury, in which the bullet partially penetrated the wall of the aorta, creating a plug that prevented immediate death due to massive bleeding.

Case presentation

A 26-year-old Libyan man was a victim of a firearm wound, with a bullet penetrating his abdominal wall from the left to right side. After the assault, the victim, spent up to 20 days crossing the Mediterranean Sea to leave his country of origin. Abdominal radiography revealed the presence of a bullet located anteriorly to the second lumbar vertebra, while computed tomography angiography, unexpectedly, demonstrated that the bullet penetrated partially into the aortic wall at the level of the left renal artery. The bullet penetrated the aortic wall for half of its length, creating a plug that avoided immediate life-threatening bleeding at the time of the gunshot injury. The bullet was removed and the aortic lesion was repaired. The patient was discharged 6 days after the surgical procedure, in good health.


We presented a very rare case of late diagnosis of aortic injury caused by a gunshot lesion, in which the particular trajectory of the bullet helped avoid immediate life-threatening bleeding and, probably, saved the patient’s life.
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