Embedded fragment injuries can occur not only from standard-use munitions including explosively formed penetrators, but also from improvised explosive devices. Fragments can be composed of a wide range of metals (e.g., iron, copper, lead, uranium, tungsten, nickel, cobalt) and organic and composite materials (e.g., plastic, ceramic, cement, plaster, glass).
Health effects caused by embedded fragments depend on the chemical composition and corrosiveness of the material(s) composing the fragment and can be local and/or systemic. Local effects can range from foreign body reactions to the development of tumors at the site of the fragment. Systemic effects result from toxic effects on target organs (e.g., renal, reproductive and neurological effects) resulting from chemicals released by the fragments. With few exceptions, the behavior of specific types of fragments when embedded in the body has not been fully identified.
Information on Embedded Fragments Properties and Health Effects
- Embedded Fragments from U.S. Military Personnel--Chemical Analysis and Potential Health Implications. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014 Jan 23;11(2):1261-78.
- This article describes the chemical composition of retained embedded fragments removed from injured military personnel and sent to the Joint Pathology Center between February 2006 and November 2012.
- Toxic Embedded Fragments Registry: Lessons Learned. Chapter 25 in Airborne Hazards Related to Deployment published by the Borden Institute of the US Army Center and School, 2015
- This book chapter describes the creation of the VA Toxic Embedded Fragments Surveillance Center and potential composition and health hazards of embedded fragments.