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CT Scans Show A Bullet Lodged In A Man's Eye Socket


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

clockDec 4 2017, 11:50 UTC

CT image showing a bullet (white) in the man's eye socket. Reproduced with permission from JAMA Ophthalmology. 2017. doi: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2017.40502017. Copyright© 2017 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.

These CT scans show the remarkable story of a man who was shot in the face and lived to talk about it.

As explained in a case report published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology this week, a 45-year old man was rushed to the ER at the University of California in San Francisco after being shot with a .22-caliber pistol. The bullet was fired through a wooden door and ended up becoming lodged in the back of his right eye socket. A computed tomography (CT) scan of the man’s head was used to locate the position of the bullet and the level of damage to his soft tissues.


A nasty entry wound was created in the corner of the man’s eye near the tear duct. Remarkably, the bullet did not fracture his skull at all. The CT scan did reveal, however, that the bullet was lodged against his inferior rectus muscle, one of six muscles that control the movements of the eye. The trauma had also caused his eyeball to bulge out by 3 millimeters, a phenomenon known as proptosis.

During a relatively smooth operation, a team of surgeons removed the bullet and repaired the damage to his soft tissue. Although he was involved in a very unfortunate accident, this man was actually very lucky in the end. Granted, he was reportedly in severe pain for a number hours, but he managed to leave the hospital with his vision still intact.

“Postoperatively, the patient’s pain rapidly resolved and his visual acuity remained unchanged,” the study concludes.

It’s believed the only reason the bullet did not lead to more serious injuries was that it had passed through the wooden door and lost some of its velocity.


Back in 2010, there were news reports of a woman whose breast implant saved her life after she was shot in the chest. A few years later, scientists carried out an experiment to see if there was any truth to this claim. They discovered that a breast implant could “significantly [decrease] ballistics gel penetration” by up to 20.6 percent decreased penetration distance, enough to save your life and dramatically reduce the damage caused.

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