Assessment of Injuries Following Terrorist Attacks: A Narrative Review

Document Type : Narrative Review


1 Trauma Research Center, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 Marine Medicine Research Center, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Nephrology and Urology Research Center, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Background: In the few past decades, the world has experienced numerous terrorist attacks.
Objectives: We sought to review the mechanisms and patterns of injuries in terrorist attacks; the main goal being better management of victims of these attacks.
Methods: In current narrative review; electronic databases (PubMed, Wiley, EMBASE, ISI Web of Knowledge, and Scopus) were searched seeking relevant publications between 2000-2018. The keywords used when searching for articles included: violence, terrorism, disasters, trauma, trauma centers, war, mass casualties, wounds, and injuries. Searching, screening, and assessment of records were done separately by two authors; disagreements were resolved by discussion with a third reviewer.
Results: Nine studies were found to be eligible for inclusion in this study. The most common device-related terrorist attacks were explosives and bombs. More than half of the victims suffered minor injured and could be treated promptly. The most common causes of mortality were head injuries, airway burns, and internal bleeding. The secondary and tertiary results of terrorist attacks were head and neck injuries. Pulmonary injuries were also common injuries in terrorist-attack victims. The most significant cause for emergency treatment was airway burns. The head, neck, pelvis, and hand were the most commonly exposed body areas. Limb amputation is a major result of complications and mortality. The mortality rate of victims that referred to a hospital was low; most deaths occurred at the scene of the attack. Aging victims, children, and women were most influenced by terrorist attacks. Immediate examination, long-term follow-up, and advanced therapeutics and psychological therapy are necessary.
Conclusion: Differences in the severity and type of injuries among victims of terrorist attacks depend upon the various causes of blast injuries, the power of the explosion, the open or enclosed location setting, the destruction of structures, and the interval between cases and the explosion. The current results showed that head and lung injuries are major causes of mortality in victims of terrorism. Appropriate emergency medical services and early management could increase patient survival rates and reduce complications.


Volume 25, Issue 1
January and February 2020
Pages 8-13
  • Receive Date: 10 September 2019
  • Revise Date: 15 November 2019
  • Accept Date: 14 December 2019