Original Article

Characteristics of Pediatric Patients With Retained Bullet Fragments and Need for Follow-Up Blood Lead Monitoring

Authors: Todd Fleenor, MD, Joshua Haupt, MD, Kathleen Richard, MD, Michele Nichols, MD, Nipam Shah, MBBS, MPH


Objectives: Multiple case reports of lead toxicity related to retained bullet fragments in pediatric patients sustaining gunshot wound have been published. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether the demographic and clinical characteristics of gunshot wounds (GSWs) could be classified high/low risk and whether routine blood lead monitoring is necessary in these patients.

Methods: A single-center prospective case series of pediatric GSW patients presenting to the emergency department (ED). The data points that were collected and analyzed included age, sex, race, wound location, disposition, and baseline and follow-up lead levels within 6 months post-injury.

Results: Twenty patients were enrolled in the study and the median age was 7.5 years (interquartile range 5.25–10.75); 75% of the patients were African American. A total of 15 patients (75%) had injuries in either a lower or upper extremity, 9 of whom required admission. Almost all of the injuries involving the head, chest, or abdomen required admission. Of the patients, 65% were admitted and 35% were discharged. All of the patients had an initial blood lead level taken, and follow-up lead levels were determined at 6 months post-injury to be <5 μg/dL. Twelve of 20 patients were lost to follow-up.

Conclusions: Pediatric GSW is common in male African Americans and these patients had baseline and follow-up lead levels below the reference level. These patients were difficult to follow up. Based on the available data, follow-up lead monitoring may not be indicated.
Posted in: Emergency & Disaster Medicine5

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