Location of Fatal Gunshot Wounds

There have been no extensive civilian studies to show the location of fatal gunshot wounds in the body in non-suicide cases. The U.S. Army has conducted a number of studies involving combat casualties.21-23 The most recent one, and probably the most applicable in view of changes in medical therapy, was the WDMET study from the Vietnam war.21 This study found that, although the head and neck constituted only 6.5% of the body surface, wounds of this region accounted for37.2%of fatalgunshot wounds. The thorax, with 13% of the body surface, was the source of fatal wounds in 36.4% of fatalities; the abdomen, 10.6%of thebodysurface, accountedfor 9.2% of the fatal wounds.

It has been the author's experience that in civilian homicide cases 40% of fatal wounds involve the brain, approximately 25% involve the heart, 25% involve the aorta or other main blood vessels, and 10% involve solid viscera, e.g., lungs, liver, kidney, etc.

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