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Doctors describe first report of paintball related liver injury

A teenage boy needed surgery after sustaining an injury to his liver during a paintballing game, reveal doctors writing in the online journal BMJ Case Reports.

Paintballing is a popular recreational sport, but there are growing concerns about pellet related injuries. Travelling at velocities of up to 300 feet per second, high-energy rounds are a well recognised cause of blindness and other facial injuries.

More recently though, it has become apparent that deep abdominal organs, such as the kidney, may also be at risk.

In this latest case, an 18-year-old was admitted to hospital with symptoms suggestive of appendicitis.

However, when the surgeons looked into the abdomen with a camera, they found extensive bleeding coming from the liver. This required the abdomen to be opened up with a larger incision and treatment applied locally to stop further bleeding.

After the operation, it became apparent that the patient had been paintballing a couple of days earlier and described being ‘hit’ twice on his right flank, although no bruising was noted.

“This represents the first report of paintball related traumatic liver injury,” write the doctors.

“Organ injuries of this nature have only been documented three times previously,” they explain. In some of these cases, operations have been required to correct damage to the kidney, penis and scrotum.

“Participants and physicians must both be aware of the possible dangers associated with this sport,” they conclude.

Case Report: Paintball-related traumatic liver injury, Joshua Luck, Daniel Bell, Gareth Bashir, BMJ Case Reports, doi:10.1136/bcr-2015-213780, published 5 May 2016.