Paintball Injury Sends Teen to ER With Liver Damage

An 18-year-old man thought to have appendicitis ended up being treated for severe internal injuries after an intense paintball game, according to a new case study.

The unidentified patient came in with severe abdominal pain, no appetite and fever, which is consistent with appendicitis, according to the case study published today in the BMJ medical journal by doctors from University Hospital in London.

However, after the teen was rushed to the operating room, doctors found that his appendix wasn't the problem and that his liver was lacerated and bleeding into his abdomen. Doctors were able to stop the bleeding by "repacking" the liver or applying a special pad and putting pressure on the organ overnight. The liver had to be repacked again the next day until the bleeding finally stopped.

After interviewing the patient, doctors discovered he had taken part in a paintball game two days before and reported being hit twice on his lower right-hand side, according to the case study.

"This represents the first report of paintball-related blunt traumatic injury to the liver," the doctors wrote in the study. "Solid organ injuries of this nature have only been reported three times previously." None of those cases involved liver damage.

The doctors pointed out that paintball pellets have caused serious injuries in the past.

"Pellets with muzzle velocities of 100-300 feet per second are potentially harmful to ocular structures and also to the intra-abdominal solid organs," the authors said. "Participants and physicians must both be aware of the possible dangers associated with this recreational sport."

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