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Correspondence: Dr Goh Siang Hiong, email@example.com
Bomb blast injuries are no longer confined to battlefields. With the ever present threat of terrorism, we should always be prepared for bomb blasts. Bomb blast injuries tend to affect air-containing organs more, as the blast wave tends to exert a shearing force on air-tissue interfaces. Commonly-injured organs include the tympanic membranes, the sinuses, the lungs and the bowel. Of these, blast lung injury is the most challenging to treat. The clinical picture is a mix of acute respiratory distress syndrome and air embolism, and the institution of positive pressure ventilation in the presence of low venous pressures could cause systemic arterial air embolism. The presence of a tympanic membrane perforation is not a reliable indicator of the presence of a blast injury in the other air-containing organs elsewhere. Radiological imaging of the head, chest and abdomen help with the early identification of blast lung injury, head injury, abdominal injury, eye and sinus injuries, as well as any penetration by foreign bodies. In addition, it must be borne in mind that bomb blasts could also be used to disperse radiological and chemical agents.
Keywords: blasts in enclosed spaces, bomb blast injuries, bowel perforation, high order explosives, mass casualty incidents, multiple fractures, pulmonary blast injury, tympanic membrane perforation
Singapore Med J 2009; 50(1): 101-106