JOURNAL ARTICLE

Thoracic spine compression fracture after TASER activation

Christian M Sloane, Theodore C Chan, Gary M Vilke
Journal of Emergency Medicine 2008, 34 (3): 283-5
18191526
The TASER is a less lethal weapon seeing increased use by police jurisdictions across the country. As a result, subjects of TASER use are being seen with increasing frequency in emergency departments across the country. The potential injury patterns of the device are important for emergency physicians to understand. This report describes the case of an officer who complained of back pain after a single 5-s TASER discharge during a routine training exercise. Subsequent evaluation led to the diagnosis of an acute thoracic vertebral compression fracture. We discuss the potential mechanisms of injury in this case. Because we were unable to find any cases like this in our review of TASER-related injuries, we liken it to compression fractures that have been documented after seizures. We recommend that physicians consider obtaining back radiographs to rule out a vertebral compression fracture in any individual who has sustained a TASER discharge and has ongoing or persistent back pain.

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