The marathon bombing in Boston and the explosion in the town of West, Texas may seem completely unrelated. But the injuries they cause are remarkably similar.
Whether a bomb explodes, or a fertilizer plant, for a surgeon there’s not much of a difference. Dr. Michael Foreman has treated both types of injuries. He’s Director of the Division of Trauma at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas. He says in both types of blasts damage is typically caused by flying fragments.
"If you’re hit by a nail that somebody put into their pipe bomb and it strikes you versus a nail that was sitting in a board that was at the place in West that got blown out and strikes you there’s really no difference other than the intent of the injury," he says.
Foreman says in an explosion, like a tornado, even tiny pieces of metal can become dangerous projectiles.
"You can think about it as a giant shot gun that’s shooting these projectiles out in a random fashion," he says. "They tear tissue, they stretch tissue, they lacerate things.”
Treating blast injuries can be more complicated than treating say, a stab or bullet wound. Dr. Foreman explains someone who has been near an explosion is likely to have multiple wounds, perhaps dozens. The debris or projectile that caused the damage though, isn’t what he’s paying attention to in the operating room.
"You treat the wound, you don’t treat the weapon.”