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Doctors Remove a “Potentially Explosive” Firework Impaled In American Man's Thigh


Madison Dapcevich


Madison Dapcevich

Freelance Writer and Fact-Checker

Madison is a freelance science reporter and full-time fact-checker based in the wild Rocky Mountains of western Montana.

Freelance Writer and Fact-Checker

Yellow Door Studio/Shutterstock

If you thought your week was off to a rough start, think again. A Texas man arrived at his local emergency room with part of a firework impaled in his leg.

The 44-year-old man told doctors the mortar-like firework beelined into his leg after he tried to reload what he believed was a dud. 


It became a real-life game of Operation when an X-ray revealed the potential explosive was indeed embedded in his right thigh.

The question then became: Could the firework still explode? 



"When you hear that, yes, [the device] could be something that could potentially be explosive, of course everybody kind of gets a little bit on edge," Dr Lane Thaut of San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC), who treated the patient, told Live Science


Unlike the board game, this version could have some serious complications.

Doctors determined that his right femur was fractured, which alone is enough to make most of us squeamish. Add to that the fact that the firework could still explode and we're dealing with a made-for-tv drama. 

Four hours after injury, the man made it to the hospital and surgeons began the work of removing the firework. Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians were called in and the man was placed in a separate room to protect medical staff and other patients. He was told to sit still while the care team worked to avoid moving him for fear of setting off the firework.

At the recommendation of the fire department, surgeons irrigated water into the open wound to drown the fuse. They then avoided using electricity in the procedure because it could spark the firework. 


Nearly two weeks later, the man left the hospital with his leg intact (with the help of a metal rod insertion and a skin graft).

Fortunately in this case, a firework fuse is a relatively simple design made of a burning fuse loosely packed with gunpowder. Military weapons are much more complex. They can be activated in a variety of ways, from increasing pressure or being near the radiofrequency of your cell phone. 

As terrorist attacks increase around the world, researchers say the “lines of traditional battlefields" are blurring. They want to use this case as an example for how to treat civilian trauma.

So, what happens when a human has the potential to become a bomb


Researchers say it is important for hospitals to have a plan in place for situations like this. The US Army has gone so far as to publish a guide for what to do in these instances. If you're a medical professional, guidelines established by the Joint Trauma System Clinical Practice say to immediately evacuate all non-essential staff and call in the local bomb squad or EOD team. 

As for our friend in Texas? We’ll leave his case to the Darwin Awards

[H/T Live Science]


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