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Gunshot Wound to the Chest

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Feb 4, 2024.

What do I need to know about a gunshot wound (GSW) to the chest?

A GSW to the chest may cause damage to your heart, lungs, esophagus, ribs, or major blood vessels.

How are injuries from a GSW diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your body to check for injury. Your provider will look to see if there is an entrance and exit wound from the bullet. You may need any of the following tests to diagnose the damage caused by your GSW:

How is a minor GSW treated?

A minor GSW is diagnosed after an x-ray, ultrasound, CT, or MRI, and a physical exam by your healthcare provider. A GSW may be minor if it does not go deep into your skin or damage any of your organs. Your provider may or may not remove the bullet. Your provider may clean your wound and close it with stitches or staples. Medicine may be prescribed to decrease your pain or prevent infection.

How is a severe GSW treated?

You may need any of the following treatments after a GSW to the chest:

How can I care for myself after a GSW to the chest?

When should I call 911?

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.