Concurrent with the increase in handgun crime in the United States is a rising incidence of gunshot wounds to the temporal bone. These injuries present challenging diagnostic and management problems to the otolaryngologist. A timely multicenter review of this entity revealed 22 cases evaluated and treated by the authors between 1975 and 1984. A wide variety of injuries were encountered, involving anatomic structures within or contiguous with the temporal bone. These included: eight intracranial injuries; 11 traumatized facial nerves; seven vascular wounds; 19 mastoid, middle, or inner ear injuries; and 11 cases of damage to the external auditory canals. A rational scheme for immediate and long-term management of each type of injury is outlined. Illustrative cases representing vascular, neural, temporal bone, and central nervous system injury are presented.
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