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Wound Ballistics

Bruce D. Ragsdale, MD
JAMA. 1988;260(22):3278-3279. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03410220061025.
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To the Editor.—  Dr Fackler,1 author of the recent article entitled "Wound Ballistics," deserves credit for conceptually separating the "crush" and "stretch" mechanisms of missile trauma2 and for emphasizing the importance of missile fragmentation in wounding potential.3 However, the details and results of his gelatin block method must be seriously challenged.4The outlines of the "temporary cavities" in his "wound profiles" are calculated from the radially oriented cracks or fissures that remain in gelatin blocks after they are centrally expanded by cavitation. That radial cracks correlate with true temporary cavity size is an unproved assumption, presented in the article as axiomatic without supporting data. We tested his wound profile method with 14 shots employing 12 varieties of ammunition and found an average 30% underestimation of the true maximum instantaneous temporary cavity diameter (range, 58% under to 67% over the true values), as measured on high-speed motion


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