1. WriterodLife1994
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    WriterodLife1994 Member

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    How long would the surgery take?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by WriterodLife1994, Aug 17, 2015.

    In my current story, a main character was shot twice in the chest with a long range rifle, it collapsed his lung, tore through several major blood vessels, and broke several of his ribs, how long would it take doctors to repair the damage? It needs to be at least three and a half hours to allow for the plot so if it's shorter than that, what other damage can I add to extend it without killing him?
     
  2. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm no doctor, but I think it's safe to say such a big trauma would put the guy on the operating table for at least 3.5 hrs.

    If I'm wrong, just add 'complications'.
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Definitely multiple hours, probably longer than three or four. One thing that takes longer in trauma surgery is you have to explore to make sure you're not missing any damage, and the damage is usually rather ragged, unlike a surgical wound where you have nice clean straight edges to sew back together.
     
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  4. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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  5. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I would have to agree with GingerCoffee. It could be anywhere from 8 hours plus, due to having to explore the areas around the impact zones for damages. It would also take a considerable amount of time to repair damage vessels, and punctures in the lung. As well as removing all particulate matter caused by the impact, both bone and metal fragments from the ballistic. Also they would have to repair gaps in the missing bone somehow. So no need to add anything extra onto your characters dilemma. They might also be affected with nerve damage depending on where they have been hit. Take into consideration the higher velocity penetration would dispel kinetic energy through out the area of impact that could cause excess damage. Not a doctor, just used a little old fashion research to come up with a reasonable time frame for your particular situation. I suggest diving a little further down the rabbit hole depending on how in depth you are going to take though. :p
     
  6. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    @GingerCoffee has nailed it. Trauma has lots of complications that take time to address. Bullets in particular create a lot of trauma (as you've identified), not just a neat hole. As @Cave Troll said, the kinetic energy of a projectile is dissipated through tissues upon impact (--> damage), and high velocity projectiles like bullets have lots of kinetic energy (if you like maths/physics: kinetic energy varies linearly with mass, but with the square of velocity, meaning that a small, speedy object has more energy than a big, slow one).

    The time taken for any procedure also varies a lot with the experience/expertise of the surgeon/s, how stable the patient is (likely quite unstable for the injuries you've described) and how coordinated the team is.

    Also note that the longer a procedure, the greater the anaesthetic risk, so extra stabilisation and supportive care can add to the time (especially if the patient is already compromised).
     
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  7. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    @WriterodLife1994 listen to Sifunkle as he seems to have a higher degree of knowledge on the subject than any of us thus far. :p
     
  8. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    Oh, I wouldn't say that - everyone has different perspectives and experiences they can bring to the table (operating table? ;)), and I'd hate to stifle that. I think it's best to consider everything you read by its own merit for what it can contribute to your story. An unorthodox/imaginative workaround may be far more useful than realistic/technical details. Everything has its place.
     
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  9. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    My art thou modest? Though I agree with you. You did bring strong elements to the table on the topic. :p
     
  10. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    It depends - a lot. Of the damage you mentioned repairing the torn blood vessels would take the longest, and depending on which blood vessels we're talking about and how bad the damage is, that could be anywhere from an hour or two to a dozen. But your real time kill for gunshot injuries is the general damage factor. Forget the kinetic energy of the bullet, just ask what happened to the bullet. If it went through leaving a clean hole, that's the best option. The worst is if the bullet fragmented in the body or ricocheted off a bone.

    There was a hunter who got shot in the chest a decade or so back who was on the table for nearly twenty four hours. Two teams of doctors and nurses including a friend of mine were involved in keeping him alive. In his case the bullet fragmented. They actually ended up not just stitching up the bleeds as they found them, but wheeling him in and out of surgery to x-ray several times to see if they could find all the fragments, then removing them one by one. These days I believe they bring a portable x-ray machine into the theatre.

    After that there's recovery and ICU. He could be in there for another day as they monitor him closely, checking to make sure that nothing comes undone - literally.

    Twenty some years ago one of my colleagues got shot in the head by a hunter - before I knew him. He spent five days being rushed back and forth between ICU and surgery and for a long time they didn't think he'd make it.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  11. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    A response from a Quoran:


    A single gunshot wound such as that (rifle) would usually be fatal. I don't have any idea how long it would take a Dr to repair such a wound, but it would take over a month for the wound to heal. The skin bruising alone would be fairly large. A gunshot is similar to being hit with a sledgehammer. The trauma is significant. I laugh at TV shows and movies that have gunshot victims healed in a week or so. The "packing" (rolled cord-like bandages) must be "packed" into the wound daily. Measurements are taken and recorded to see how much the wound has healed from the inside out. The bullet holes are left open (covered with bandages) to heal as "pockets of infection can occur if only the outside of the wound is closed by stitching or (my TV favorite)-cauterized shut with a red hot knife while the gunshot victim bites down on a stick.
     

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