A London teenager suffered such serious damage to his liver during a paintball game that he had to be operated upon to stop profuse bleeding from the organ. Health professionals say the case highlights the potential dangers of the game and raises safety concerns for the players.
A 2002 survey in the UK revealed an estimated 923 cases of injuries from paintballing where patients required hospitalisation, of which 42% suffered strains and fractures. Of those admitted, about 431 suffered injuries to the leg, ankle or foot, the Mail Online reported.
Doctors Joshua Luck, Daniel Bell and Gareth Bashir at North Middlesex University Hospital, who attended to the 18-year-old boy, said this was the first report of paintball-related traumatic liver injury.
Writing in the online journal BMJ Case Reports, they said the symptoms were similar to that of appendicitis, but further inspection revealed extensive bleeding from the liver. On inquiring, the boy admitted that he was hit twice on the right side of his stomach during a paintball game.
The surgeons said they had to operate on the patient to stop further bleeding. They said he had no signs of bruising or marks on his skin where he reportedly got hit by the paintball capsules but the liver was badly damaged, which caused the bleeding.
The doctors added that there have been three cases of organ injuries "of this nature" in the past — in one case, the injury was to the kidney, while the others were to the penis and scrotum. Both the injuries to the groin required an operation, the doctors wrote, cautioning that paintball players and physicians "must both be aware of the possible dangers associated with this sport".
Previously, doctors have been seen cautioning paintball enthusiasts about the paint-filled capsules used in the game, which travels at a speed of up to 300ft per second. Doctors have feared that these capsules are capable of causing potentially major injuries.