An 18-year-old sustained internal injuries and ended up requiring liver surgery after a game of paintball.
The patient was brought in with symptoms that included severe abdominal pain, having no appetite, and fever; all of which are consistent with appendicitis.
Although the case, detailed in a case study published in the BMJ medical journal by doctors from University Hospital, London, involved undergoing an emergency surgery, the doctors were “very surprised to see blood coming from the liver” after the operation began, Dr. Joshua Luck, who treated the unidentified patient and is the lead author of the case study, said.
As the bleeding in the abdominal cavity was unexpected, the doctors believed they had ruptured a blood vessel during the operation. It was eventually discovered that the issue was with the patient’s liver and not his appendix. An interview with the patient revealed that he had played a game of paintball a couple of days earlier and had been struck in the same area of his body more than once. An operation was required to stem his bleeding.
“Solid organ injuries of this nature have only been reported three times previously—all in the urological setting,” the report says. “Paintball pellets are known to be harmful to ocular structures but are increasingly associated with vascular and solid organ injuries. Participants and physicians must both be aware of the possible dangers associated with this recreational sport.”
The bleeding had stopped two days following the surgery, and the patient was discharged from the hospital, the report notes. But he returned three weeks later and informed the doctors that the ultrasound, which he had undergone upon leaving the hospital, showed a pool of blood in the liver.
Further testing revealed that the liver was reabsorbing the blood, and that no damage had occurred. The patient’s liver was functioning effectively, Luck said.
According to the report, the speed of paintballs fired from guns reach up to 30 to 90 meters per second.
“This was the young man’s first time playing paintball,” Luck said. “Whether he’ll try it again is yet to be decided.”
As reported by Live Science, this is the fourth case where an organ had been damaged by playing paintball. One of the previous cases involved kidney damage and two others where the penis or the scrotum were damaged.