New Trends in Terrorism-Related Injury Mechanisms: Is There a Difference in Injury Severity?

Israeli Trauma Group (ITG)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Study objective: The latest wave of terrorism worldwide has seen significant use by terrorists of mundane, “low-technology” weapons, such as utility knives and civilian vehicles. How do the injuries they produce compare with that of more conventional terrorism mechanisms, such as use of firearms and explosives? We compare injury patterns of the most frequent terrorism-related injury mechanisms in an Israeli data set. Methods: This was a retrospective study of 1,858 patients hospitalized because of terrorism events, which were recorded in the Israeli National Trauma Registry between January 1997 and December 2016. The events were divided into 4 groups based on weapon used: explosions, shootings, stabbings, and vehicular attacks. The groups were compared in terms of injuries sustained, use of hospital resources, and clinical outcomes. Results: Explosion-related and vehicular terrorism resulted in a higher proportion of multiple injuries, whereas stabbings and shootings mostly led to isolated injuries. Victims of vehicular attacks had a high proportion of severe head injuries, whereas stabbing victims had a high volume of vascular injuries. All mechanisms involved significant damage to extremities; however, among stabbing victims injury was mainly to the upper extremities, whereas among vehicular attack victims it was mostly to the lower extremities. The overall injury severity of the compared groups was similar, leading to comparable levels of intensive care use and inhospital mortality. Certain similarities in victims’ characteristics were observed between the shootings and stabbings and between explosions and vehicular attacks. Conclusion: Despite differences between various terrorist attack mechanisms, the resulting injury severity and inhospital mortality are very similar, with stabbings and vehicular attacks causing injuries as serious as those caused by conventional weapons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)697-705
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Emergency Medicine
Volume74
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019

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