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Podiatrist in Chicago, IL Discusses Gunshots Wounds to the Foot


Dr. Jeffrey Baker

June 2, 2015

“Orange is my color today – Gunshot Wounds to the Foot”

podiatrist in chicago for gunshot wound to foot

On Tuesday June 2, 2015 you may notice people wearing orange.  This will be to honor all those whose lives were stolen or forever changed by gun violence. The color orange was chosen as it is the color hunters wear to alert other hunters of their presence.  The wearing of the orange is a way hunters take care of their own lives and the lives of others.  It’s a color that symbolizes the value of human life.

June 2nd is an especially important day in the city of Chicago concerning the effects of gun violence.  Hadiya Pendelton was a high school student from Chicago who performed with her marching band at President Barak Obama’s inauguration in 2013.  One week later she was murdered with a gun, shot at a park near her school in Chicago.  June 2nd would have been her 18th birthday.

At the immediate care center in Chicago, we specialize in foot and ankle trauma. Within this subset of podiatry, one subset of injuries I treat is gunshot wounds.  Gunshot wounds to the foot account for approximately 5% of all gunshot wounds. While non-life-threatening, these wounds cause significant injury and disability. Due to the specific anatomic architecture and function of the foot, gunshot wound trauma creates significant damage to important structures such as bones, tendons, nerves, and arteries.  Therefore these injuries require extensive treatment and long-term rehabilitation.

A gunshot wound to the foot inevitably injures bone as bony architecture make up the majority of the foot anatomy and structure, almost always creating a fracture through the bone. This type of fracture is classified as an open fracture as the bone is fractured along with an accompanying opening in the skin. This type of fracture is at increased risk for infection due to the opening in the skin and the contaminated nature of the bullet projectile through the foot. The combination of the wound to the skin, injury to anatomic structures such as bone, muscle, tendon, nerves, and vascular supply, and the high risk for infection, creates a challenge to treat these injuries. The extent of injury from a gunshot wound to the foot determines the type of treatment required.  This most often may involve the use of specialized fixation devices called external fixators and plastic surgery techniques to close wounds.

Initially all gunshot wounds to the foot require a thorough washout of the cavity created by the bullet.  Wound cultures are obtained to determine if infection is present and the patient’s tetanus status must be determined and updated if necessary. The associated bone fracture must be stabilized and due to the extent of injury and bone instability I most often use an external fixator. This device is like an erector set placed on the foot to stabilize the fracture, however still allow for treatment of the associated wound. The use of a bone graft may be necessary to fill any holes created within the bone from the gunshot injury. Even with meticulous treatment from our immediate care center in Chicago, some gunshot wound injuries may lead to partial or full amputation of the foot depending on the degree of injury to the vital structures of the foot. The goal of treatment is to provide the patient with a functioning foot free of infection.

Picture 1:

This post-injury radiograph reveals a gunshot wound through the 1st metatarsal of the right foot.  The bullet created a comminuted [multiple parts] fracture through the center of the bone

Picture 2:

This post-surgery radiograph shows an external fixator in place stabilizing the 1st metatarsal with antibiotic bone cement placed within the hole in the bone caused by the bullet to prevent infection.

To learn more about gunshot wound treatment, click here or contact our immediate care center in Chicago today!


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