A retrospective review of 12 patients who were victims of penetrating trauma with a bullet or bullet fragments lodged within the intervertebral disk space was conducted. The objective of the review was to evaluate the potential systemic effects of lead resorption at long-term follow-up. Literature regarding the potential for lead toxicity due to retained bullet fragments within the intervertebral disk space is lacking. Between January 1969 and June 1993, a total of 238 patients with a gunshot wound to the spine were identified. Twelve of the 238 were found to have a bullet or bullet fragments within the intervertebral disk space. All patients were fully screened for evidence of plumbism. The average age at time of gunshot injury was 35.8 years; the average time for follow-up was 7.8 years. One of the 12 patients showed clinical evidence of plumbism. The patient subsequently underwent a partial laminectomy and diskectomy with excision of the bullet fragments. The patient's complaints, specific for plumbism, resolved 2 months postoperatively. We conclude that patients with retained lead-based bullet fragments in the intervertebral disk should be educated about the rare potential for plumbism due to partial bullet fragment resorption and that long-term observation for this disorder is recommended.
- Intervertebral disk space
- Retained bullet fragments
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine