Gunshot wounds to the head and neck

Vishal S. Doctor, D Gregory Farwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Gunshot wounds to the head and neck result in significant bone and soft tissue loss. These defects pose a challenge to the facial reconstructive surgeon. This paper reviews the current literature on the management of ballistic injuries to the head and neck and outlines a treatment algorithm. RECENT FINDINGS: With recent advances in free tissue transfer, early definitive reconstruction of bone and soft tissue deficits with vascularized flaps has become the treatment of choice. Computed tomography angiography of the neck has been shown to be a sensitive, specific, and safe technique in screening for vascular injuries. SUMMARY: Management of ballistic injuries to the head and neck begins with advanced trauma life support protocols. Computed tomography angiography is now widely available and provides an accurate and rapid evaluation of head and neck vasculature. The initial operation aims to establish occlusion, stabilize bone and close soft tissue defects. Serial debridement of wounds with delayed reconstruction has given way to early definitive repair with vascularized tissue. This has led to improved function, fewer operations, and shorter hospital stays.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-218
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2007


  • Computed tomography angiogram
  • Gunshot wounds
  • Head and neck
  • Reconstruction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Surgery


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