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A rare chest X-ray sign in the diagnosis of an intracardiac bullet: case report
The Cardiothoracic Surgeon  (IF),  Pub Date : 2020-05-27, DOI: 10.1186/s43057-020-00024-1
Mohamed Osman, Reham Khalil, Ahmed Hany Abdalla, Azza Katta, Samer Nashef, Sameh Elameen

Gunshot injuries to the heart are often seen in cardiac surgical practice. Victims are usually investigated with various types of imaging modalities, including simple chest X-ray (CXR) which is a primary imaging modality that can easily locate a bullet and is useful in monitoring before surgical intervention as bullets may migrate. A 32-year-old man was admitted as an emergency in a primary hospital after being injured by a gunshot to the chest. The bullet entry was over the back of the left shoulder with no exit point seen. The chest X-ray showed left pleural effusion and a retained intrathoracic bullet. A chest drain was inserted and drained 2200 ml of blood. Computed tomography (CT) scan showed an intracardiac bullet associated with left lower lobe contusion and left-sided hemothorax. He was urgently transferred to theater for exploration via left thoracotomy. The bullet could not be found so the inlet point in the left ventricle was sutured. After stabilizing the patient, he was referred to a specialized cardiac center for further management. The patient arrived at our center 2 days after the injury, fully conscious and hemodynamically stable. On arrival, chest X-rays were obtained to rule out possible migration of the bullet and revealed that the retained bullet was still within the cardiac silhouette. The X-ray appearance of the bullet showed a characteristically double contour, strongly suggesting that the bullet had lodged in the heart muscle and was moving with each heartbeat. The patient was transferred to the theater for median sternotomy. The aorta, superior vena cava, and inferior vena cava were cannulated, and cardiopulmonary bypass was initiated. The aorta was cross-clamped and the cardioplegia was given. Palpation of the still heart readily identified the bullet within the interventricular septum. The left ventricle was opened 1 cm from the left anterior descending artery just on top of the bullet. The bullet was successfully retrieved. The bullet was transfixing the septum causing a small ventricular septal defect which was closed using a Teflon patch and the ventricle was repaired. The double contour appearance of the bullet indicates that the bullet is moving and strongly suggests an intramyocardial position.