Friday, June 16, 2006

How Does a Bomb Kill You?

If you click the link above you will be directed to a very fine report from Hell from Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. Perhaps if he had turned his talents to composing rap lyrics he might not have had to kill to become famous? Through my laughter I remembered a presentation I attended during my residency about blast injuries and I thought it might be interesting to consider how people actually die in an explosion.

The primary cause of death in an explosion in overpressure in the bariatric-susceptible organs. The blast creates a huge pressure differential in the air which ruptures lung tissue and air filled intestinal tissue in a thousand different places. Death follows for those who are not literally blown to bits by respiratory failure, bleeding, or traumatic brain injury. Those in close but not lethal proximity to the blast will often have ruptured eardrums. Think of it like a firecracker exploding next to a balloon... the balloon pops.

If the blast does not destroy the respiratory mechanism there are a host of other problems an explosion creates for its victim. "Secondary" blast effects kill many... these include objects propelled into the victim by the blast or conversely, the victim propelled into an immovable object by the blast ("tertiary" injuries).

It sounds from reports like Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi survived the initial blast. I have heard it said, and must agree, that it is somehow satisfying to know that the last thing this murderer saw was a United States Soldier. RIH.

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