UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Orthopedics

Title: Blast Injuries

Keywords: Blast, hand, injuries (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/5/2009 by Michael Bond, MD
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Blast Injuries:

In honor of the 4th of July holiday, here is a quick pearl about blast injuries.

  • Blast injuries due to fireworks most often affect the hands. 
  • Other than the obvious superficial wounds that are seen on exam, the EP should be aware of significant cavitation and destruction of muscles that can occur in the forearm, thenar and hypothenar muscle groups which may be distal from the gross wound seen. 
  • The energy from the blast is often transmitted through the carpal tunnel leading to an acute carpal tunnel syndrome from contusion of the median nerve.
  • Patients should also be monitored for compartment syndrome.
  • These patients can have significant injruies that are not immediately apparent. Consider observing these patients for awhile, or have them seen by hand surgery in case complications develop later on.


Philipson MR, Southern SJ.  The blast component of firework injuries--not to be underestimated. Injury. 2004:35; 1042-1043.