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Ricochet of a Bullet in the Spinal Canal: A Case Report and Review of the Literature on Bullet Migration

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Abstract: 

Ricochet of a bullet in the spinal canal is well known by neurosurgeons but relatively not a common event in usual medico-legal autopsy practice. This article presents a homicide case of a penetrating gunshot injury of the lumbar spine through the T12-L1 intervertebral foramen with active movement of the projectile within the spinal canal to the L5-S1 level. This case illustrates a bullet intradural and intramedullary active movement because of a ricochet of the body of T12 with active redirection of the path. In the current literature, different types of migration in caudal or cranial direction, intradural, or intramedullary are reported. If spontaneous migration of T10 to S1 seems to be more frequent, some authors reported a C1 to S2 migration. Such migration could be asymptomatic or induce neurological impairment. The medico-legal consequences of these migrations within the spinal canal are described.
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Keywords: bullet; forensic science; migration; neurological impairment; ricochet; spinal canal

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Legal Medicine, University of Strasbourg,11 rue Human 67085, Strasbourg Cedex, France.

Publication date: 2010-09-01

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