Unexploded ordnance management

John S. Oh, Jason M. Seery, Daniel J. Grabo, Mark D. Ervin, Tom M. Wertin, Ryan P. Hawks, Avi Benov, Zsolt T. Stockinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The purpose of this Clinical Practice Guide is to provide details on the procedures to safely remove unexploded ordnance from combat patients, both loose and impaled, to minimize the risks to providers and the medical treatment facility while ensuring the best outcome for the patient. Military ordnance, to include bullets, grenades, flares, and explosive ordnance, retained by a patient can be a risk to all individuals and equipment along the continuum of care. This is especially true from the point of injury to the first treatment facility. Management of patients with unexploded ordnance either on or in their body is a rare event during combat surgery. Loose munitions are usually noted and easily removed prior to the patient receiving medical treatment. However, impaled munitions provide a significant challenge. These are usually caused by large caliber, high-velocity projectiles. Patients who survive to arrive at a treatment facility must be triaged safely and simultaneously treated appropriately to ensure both the survival of the patient and the treatment team. Between WWII and the Somalia conflict, there have been 36 reported cases of unexploded ordnance from U.S. soldiers. Since 2005, there have been six known cases during the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and one additional case in Pakistan. Optimal outcomes require a basic knowledge of explosives and triggering mechanisms, as well as adherence to basic principles of trauma resuscitation and surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-28
Number of pages5
JournalMilitary Medicine
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


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