HealthDay News — Despite being relatively uncommon in civilian populations, clinicians should be aware of the spectrum of injuries that may arise from bomb explosions and the role of radiologic imaging in emergency preparedness, according to researchers.

“[I]njuries such as those that occurred in the Boston Marathon bombing are particularly relevant to the fields of rheumatology, rehabilitation, orthopedics and musculoskeletal imaging,” Ali Guermazi, MD, PhD, from the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues reported in Arthritis Care & Research.

Providers who work in these medical specialties may need to act as first responders in the event of a similar violent attack, they emphasized. 

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In the Boston Marathon bombing survivors most frequently had injuries to soft tissue and musculoskeletal systems, with 3% experiencing traumatic amputation. 

Guermazi and colleagues recommend that patients who sustain blast injuries should immediately be imaged by radiology or computed tomography to quickly assess damage and determine the course of treatment.

All extremities should be examined systematically for musculoskeletal, neurological and vascular injuries, they added. Since radiography and computed tomography images can be acquired quickly, they should be used to detect bone and tissue damage, as well as foreign objects embedded in the body. Surgery should be performed immediately in urgent cases.

“We suggest that in these urgent situations, radiology resources should be used liberally and promptly to allow swift assessment and patient management including life- and limb-saving treatment,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Guermazi A et al. Arthritis Care Res. 2013; doi: 10.1002/acr.22113.