Author(s): Tiguert R, Jeffrey A Triest
OBJECTIVES: Shotgun injuries are rare, with the extent of injury best determined at time of surgical exploration. There are no defined workup or management guidelines for patients with shotgun injuries to the genitourinary system. Injuries are usually treated on an individual basis. This study was conducted to determine the management and extent of genitourinary tract injuries in 10 patients with shotgun injuries to the pelvis during a 6-year interval. METHODS: Between September 1990 and December 1996, 140 patients were treated for firearm injuries to the lower genitourinary tract, of which 10 were secondary to shotgun blasts. We performed a retrospective hospital and clinic chart review and telephone interview to assess organs injured, initial treatment, follow-up surgeries, mortality, and erectile function. RESULTS: Mean patient age was 20 years at the time of the injury. The mean follow-up was 4 years (range 1 to 7). Two patients died, both with major vascular injuries, one in the operating room and the other 1 week later from sepsis. Eight patients underwent radiographic examinations (1 intravenous urogram and 7 urethrocystograms). The bladder was injured in 5 patients, 2 with concomitant complete posterior urethral transection. Of the 5 patients without bladder injury, one had an incomplete penile urethral injury and one had a complete bulbar urethral transection. The initial management consisted of repairing nongenitourinary injuries in 8 cases (80%), most commonly involving injuries to the rectum and small bowel. All patients were treated operatively, including 8 who required laparotomy and 4 who required suprapubic cystotomy. A total of four urethral injuries were noted. Subsequent reconstructive surgeries included two urethroplasties and one permanent supravesical diversion for 3 patients with extensive urethral loss. Erectile dysfunction was present in 3 of 6 patients available for telephone interview. CONCLUSIONS: Shotgun injuries involving the lower genitourinary tract are associated with significant soft tissue injury and morbidity. Death usually results from major associated vascular injuries. All hemodynamically stable patients should undergo retrograde urethrograms and cystograms to evaluate possible urethral and bladder injuries. Open primary repair should be attempted for distal urethral, testicular, and corporal injuries. Delayed repair with staged urethral reconstruction should be reserved for patients with extensive loss of urethral tissue. Impotence is common in patients with extensive perineal injuries.