Severe lung contusion and death after high-velocity behind-armor blunt trauma: relation to protection level

Military Medicine
Dan GrythThomas B Kjellström


The most-used safety recommendation for protective vests is that the impact should not cause more than a 44-mm impression in plasticine. The aim of this study was to investigate whether this criterion was sufficient if the vest was exposed to a high-velocity projectile. We tested the hypothesis with pigs divided into a 40-mm group (n = 10) and a 34-mm group (n = 8) protected by a vest allowing a 40-mm or 34-mm impression in plasticine, respectively. Five (50%) of 10 animals in the 40-mm group and 2 (25%) of 8 in the 34-mm group died due to the trauma. We observed severe lung hematoma, impaired circulation, desaturation, and electroencephalogram changes. These effects were more aggravated in the 40-mm group compared to the 34-mm group. Based on our results, the overall judgment is that the safety criterion of 44-mm impression is insufficient when a vest is exposed to a high-velocity projectile.


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