Literature review


How to cite: Junior OVM, Miziara ID. Characteristics of injuries caused by less-lethal ammunition shooting: a historical view. Persp Med Legal Pericia Med. 2023; 8: e230413

Submitted 11/05/2022
Accepted 04/11/2023

The authors inform there is no confict of interest.


Orlando Victorino de Moura Junior (1)

Ivan Dieb Miziara (2)

(1) Universidade de São Paulo, Departamento de Medicina Legal, Bioética, Medicina do Trabalho e Medicina Física e Reabilitação, São Paulo-SP, Brasil. (autor principal)

(2) Universidade de São Paulo, Departamento de Medicina Legal, Bioética, Medicina do Trabalho e Medicina Física e Reabilitação, São Paulo-SP, Brasil. (orientador) E-mail:;


introduction: In the early 1970s, a new type of firearm was introduced into the military arsenal, with a format and function identical to those that had been used for centuries by forces from different countries, but now fed with rubber or plastic ammunition, whose use was intended to contain the targets without causing lethal damage. Until the present-day firearms with less lethal projectiles are used by police forces. objectives: This article aims to expose the characteristics of the injuries caused by this type of ammunition, which parts of the body are most affected, in addition to finding out which are the most frequent sequelae and whether there is a risk of death in its use. methods: A literature review was performed on PubMed and all articles and case reports involving injuries in live humans caused by this type of ammunition were analyzed. results: 37 articles were included in the present study and, together, they exposed a total of 932 injuries, of which 612 could be classified as simple blunt or perforated contusion. discussion: Shots by less-lethal ammunition, despite being known as “non-lethal ammunition”, can result in death or serious impairment by damaging organs, sense or function, especially when they reach more sensitive regions of the human body, such as the face or eyes. conclusion: Of the injuries that could be classified, 60% were blunt and 40% perforated-contuse. The head was the most affected region. The eyes accounted for 32% of the total number of injuries, which justifies visual loss as the most frequently reported sequelae. The risk of death exists; 26 people died from gunshot wounds.

Keywords: Gunshot wounds; firearms; nonpenetrating wounds; blunt injuries.

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