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Gunshot wound to hip/leg?
James headdesk
b37d45 wrote in little_details
I am writing a fanfic set in 1980's London(1983 to be precise). My main Character is a spy/agent and he needs to sustain an injury that puts him out of action for a long time, and has a long period of "trying" convalescence. It can be initially touch and go whether he lives, however he needs to be able to eventually return to active duty. I have thought about him being shot in the hip or leg but I have a few questions.

How likely is it that a shot to the leg would sever the femoral artery and cause death? (I don't want this to happen)
What would be the treatment plan for a shot in hip/leg and how long would recovery take? (Bearing in mind this is the 80's)
Would he need to use a wheelchair?
Would it affect walking permanently?
What complications would be involved, other than infections, if any?

Searches used; treatment of gunshot wounds, treatment/recovery of gunshot wounds in 70's, femoral artery severed in shooting.
I have also used this site to try and find out and while I have found good information, it is not as specific as I'd like.

Thank you in advance for any help given

Really, it's completely up to you. I think the best bet would be a broken femur near the hip or knee joints, or a direct hit to the hip or knee. Lots of blood loss (especially if nearer the hip) but survivable with treatment, and a real bugger to heal from. Today there's light-weight bone pins, drugs for neuropathic pain and better microsurgery for nerves and tendons; in the 80s you might get good rehab but you're also going to have up to 6 weeks in traction, painful rehab and possibly reliance on painkillers and/or alcohol afterwards, depending on what your character is likely to use more of. May be in a wheelchair for a time or may be straight onto crutches once out of traction, depending on the severity of the injury and the focus of the rehab people. UK rehab then, as now, can be pretty extended and good quality - provided you live somewhere where you can access it. Ongoing pain issues are quite likely - in both legs, the hips and back, because of adjusting to the limp and possibly a shortened leg.

A direct hit to the knee or hip socket with a high calibre weapon is probably going to put your character permanently off-duty, possibly losing a leg. I'd go with a medium-to-low calibre handgun, one or two shots, or a direct hit to the femur with a higher calibre handgun.

so I guess a direct hit to the hip is out then. He needs to be able to go back to duty. Thank you very much for your information. :)

hi! I've done some extensive research into gunshot wounds because of a fic I was working on, so I may be able to offer some assistance. I also know some anatomy which may be useful.

If the gunshot wound is close to the groin or inside of the thigh there is a possibility it could hit the femoral artery. Given that it is a relatively small area on the body to hit, particularly on a moving target, it is more likely that the victim would suffer shock and other issues rather than bleeding out immediately. There is also the risk of the bullet impacting bone. To put it rather simply, a through-and-through GSW imparts less energy on the body, than a wound where the bullet impacts bone, or doesn't go all the way through (ie energy is transferred instead). If the bullet does happen to impact bone, this can cause massive damage. Damage to the femur - because it is a long bone - can be a bitch to fix and heal. Damage to the hip would be insurmountably worse (shows/movies that depict cops getting shot in the shoulder and being completely fine are so inaccurate) and require extensive surgery and physio, depending on the damage inflicted. This would no doubt put someone out of action for a decent amount of time while they heal and go through physio.

From my readings - forensic sites, medical accounts etc - fatalities aren't usually a result of being shot (and this includes being shot in the head D:), it's usually a result of complications arising to being shot (depending on GSW location; being shot in the abdomen and rupturing the bowel is going to cause infection, which could potentially kill you if not treated within 12 hours), the body going into shock and staving off infection. Shock tends to be the major risk here. Even if the femoral artery isn't ruptured, the victim will still bleed, and the drop in blood pressure, heart rate etc are often the biggest risk.

It will also depend on the type of handgun used, and the type of ammunition used - something I also had to research extensively. I did a search for hanguns - pistols and revolvers mostly, though you will come across rifles in your searchings, and the various ammunitions used - some will cause significantly more damage than others, and this may influence the overall outcome of your character.

Can't tell you anything about recovery time though, but you may be able to find actual accounts of gunshot victims - as depressing as it is, there are documents from the various mass shootings that can provide some good insight into what happens when someone gets shot, how long before they notice they've actually been shot, the complications that arose afterwards etc etc.

Try searching forensic sites, medical accounts, and victims re-accounts for the most accurate and useful info :)
Hope that helps a little!

I will definatley have a look at more sites. Thank you very much for the information it has really helped.

I have a question for you, then.

Say the character is a 16 year old male, shot in the hip. The bullet grazes the outer edge of the pelvis and exits through his buttocks. He falls down a flight of steps, hits the floor on the bottom.

Beyond that, I have basically the same questions as the OP:

What would be the treatment plan for a shot in hip/leg and how long would recovery take? [[snip]]
Would he need to use a wheelchair?
Would it affect walking permanently?

Would there be surgery?
How long would he be hospitalized?

I've googled, but I don't google well, so I've not really come up with a whole lot of information ~ although it did lead me to this LJ community, which I found out I'm already a member of ... :blush:

If need be, I can paste this into a new post.

Hi! I can't say I know a lot about gunshot wounds, but this is my two cents worth anyway.
I agree with mudg3t that the femoral artery would be pretty hard to hit. It's only superficial near the groin- then it runs underneath muscle to get to the back of the knee. A broken femur would be pretty awful in terms of recovery.

Nerve damage implies paralysis- so if the bullet hits a big nerve and cuts it, your guy is likely to be in a wheelchair/crutches for the rest of this life. There are three major nerves in your legs. One runs down the back of your thigh [sciatic nerve], the other runs down the inner thigh [obturator], and the last [femoral] runs down the front, closer to the outside of the leg than the femoral artery.

How about breaking the tibia or the fibula [the two bones in the calf]? Less chance of permanent damage, I think, but you'd still need a pretty long convalescence. The major artery runs from the back of the knee and into the muscles, and it's a continuation of the femoral artery. Nerves you'd have to worry about run from the back of the knee to the front, just below the knee joint. Completely cutting those means you'll be unable to lift up your foot and toes [ie the foot drops and dangles from the ankle joint]. If it's just nerve damage, it's likely you'll still get the same effects, but rehab could cure things! And what could be more frustrating than not having your muscles do what you want them to?

Hope this helped somewhat and isn't too confusing!

im telling you from first hand knowledge yes it would damage the femoral artery and femoral vein i died 3 times in a 12 hr surgery preformed by a vas. surgeon that went to school with my father at ut medical i was wheelchair bound for several months could not walk for a long time because of raising the blood pressure in my grafts and hemmorage to death i walk with a limp swelling and terrible pain i sometimes wish it was amputated at time of surgery it was done when i was 18 and now im 45 if i had not have tied it off with a belt i would have bled completely out it went to a burning sensation to not any pain at all i was bleeding out and i didnt realize it this surgery happend in 1988 entry wound under knee exit wound mid thigh 38 call.he would not be able to work later in life because of the extensive damage to leg a straight pass through would have been alot better my leg looks like it should be on someone elses body 3 times normal size if you need more info and pics i will check back

i appreciate your attention to detail and facts. This is an excellent example of crowd sourcing information for your novels.