Most splinters are relatively small and cause little harm. Large wooden splinters can cause devastating injuries depending on the size and kinetic energy at impact.


Historically the largest number of splinter-related injuries occurred in wooden military ships. These occurred when shot impacted the wooden sides of the ship, with release of numerous missiles ("shiver").


A large wooden splinter can be over a foot in length.


Causes of human encountering a large splinter:

(1) explosion

(2) impalement

(3) tornado or other high wind condition

(4) motor vehicle accident


Features of wounds:

(1) often large and ragged

(2) multiple splinters may be involved after an explosion

(3) care must be taken to remove all splinter fragments

(4) tetanus is a serious risk

(5) post-operative infections are common, often with environmental Gram-negative rods or fungi, and prophylactic antibiotics may be helpful in reducing these infections

(6) plain X-rays may not detect fragments

(7) injuries to an eye can result in blindness or loss of the eye


Common injuries:

(1) pneumothorax

(2) laceration with hemorrhage

(3) bowel perforation

(4) neck injuries


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