South Georgia surgeon no stranger to birdshot wounds - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South Georgia surgeon no stranger to birdshot wounds

February 14, 2006

Albany - Shotgun wounds aren't that uncommon here in South Georgia.  Because hunting is such a popular sport, surgeons have plenty of experience with birdshot wounds.

The tiny individual pellets, about 150 in all, are packed into one shell. When the shotgun is fired, the pellets spray outward.

 "Because the pellets are so small they would be very difficult to find and trying to cut all the tissues or cut the muscles or cut whatever you have to cut to get to the birdshot would cause more trauma than the shot itself," says surgeon Dr. John Bagnato.

So it's not uncommon for doctors to leave the tiny pellets where they are in a victim's body. 

 "Most of the time the pellets don't penetrate that deeply, so the body tends to extrude them on their own anyway and once they get into the deeper parts of the body they're pretty inert and don't cause any long term problems."

 But problems can arise if those tiny pellets get into your blood stream.

"If bird shot or even a bullet happens to enter a blood vessel, it can move around and that can be a problem, but there's no way to know from a x-ray where the pellet is."