Intravascular Bullet Embolism to the Right Atrium


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Jeffrey Springer, M.D.
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center
Department of Pathology
1901 Perdido Street
New Orleans, LA 70112


Abstract:  Bullet embolism is a relatively unusual complication of gunshot wounds. Embolism to the right atrium comprises <5% of all reported intravascular bullet emboli. We report an additional case of bullet embolus to the right atrium of a 0.38-caliber bullet following a gunshot wound to the chest. The intracardiac bullet was recognized radiologically on presentation, but the patient was hemodynamically stable and managed conservatively, with the bullet left in place. The missile remained within the heart without clinical significance for several years and was recovered from the right atrium only at the time of autopsy. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first documented case of a 0.38-caliber bullet which embolized to the right atrium and remained inconsequential for an extended period of time.