A woman who was hit by a close-range gunshot to the chest was saved because of her silicone breast implants.
In a rare case study published to the SAGE medical journal, medical experts described how a silicone breast implant deflected a bullet away from the vital organs of a 30-year-old woman.
The shooting incident happened in Toronto, Canada in 2018. According to surgeon Giancarlo McEvenue, it is one of only a handful of instances recorded in the medical literature where someone’s breast implants played a key role in saving a patient’s life, and the first recorded instance of a silicone implant doing so.
According to medical experts, there are two types of breast implants approved for sale in the United States.
Both have a silicone outer shell, but one is saline-filled, while the other is silicone gel-filled.These implants can vary in size, shell thickness, shell surface texture, and shape, and are typically used to increase breast size or to rebuild breast tissue, such as after a mastectomy or other damage to the breast.
While the details of the shooting are unclear, surgeon McEvenue told reporters that the patient barged into a local emergency department asking for treatment after being shot in the chest.
McEvenue, one of the treating surgeons said:
“She was talking — the trauma team was in disbelief at how well she was,”
“The bullet wound entry was on the left breast, but the rib fracture was on the right side. The bullet entered the skin on the left side first, and then ricocheted across her sternum into the right breast and broke her rib on the right side,”
“The implant caused the change in the trajectory of the bullet,”
Reports said the woman suffered a gunshot wound, broken ribs, and broken implants, but other than that, she was remarkably unscathed.
“On the left-hand side is the heart and lungs — if the bullet would have gone into the chest, she would have had a much more serious, possibly life-threatening injury.”
As the operation goes, medics found a hard, bullet-like object in the woman’s right lower anterior thoracic wall below the right breast.
Using trauma radiographs, medical experts were able to find the bullet in the right lateral thoracic wall, a fractured rib and air bubbles in the left breast, and concluded that the bullet traveled from the left breast to the right thoracic wall.
After the operation, doctors said the patient was later evaluated and cleared by the trauma service, but reports said the firearm was never recovered and the shooter remains unknown.
The report also stated that doctors were able to treat the wound by removing the implants, irrigating the wound and prescribing a short course of antibiotics.