Inflating a set of cat lungs
Lungs are by most accounts mundane. Everybody has them, few give it much thought. But sequestered within darkness of the chest cavity, enveloping the fluttering heart, there’s a incredible wonder to this oddly inflatable organ.
Dissection is a destructive process. Rudely excised from membranous mooring and nourishing vessels, the deflated lungs appear little more than bloodied meat; amorphous and exposed…….until a breath of air unfurls its secret glory.
Here, a set of cat lungs is inflated with a straw. Comprised of hundreds of millions of microscopic air sacks called aveoli, Mammalian lungs harbor air capacity that is difficult to believe unless seen. The color of the entire organ lightens into a soft pink, as each microscopic sac fills with air.
A debt of gratitude is owed to cyborgraptor for her assistance in creating these gifs, as well as the students that help me film this demo.
LUNGS are one of the most elastic organs in your body. This means it can take MORE trauma that the other organs in your body. See: Liver damage.
It has a greater trauma resistance because the elasticity can absorb more of the energy/shock, which makes the impact less severe. It also means a puncture or laceration will be less likely to widen/stretch because it doesn’t tear so easily. E.g. you probably have a better chance of surviving a gunshot wound to the lungs than the liver (depends on where you are hit and other factors, but bare with me for the one variable here). Using a handgun as an example, the entry and exit wound for the lungs won’t be that big and compared to the rest of your lung’s surface area, not much damage is made. Your liver on the other hand is one of the most blood filled organs and has near to no elasticity. This means a bullet wound can easily tear wider due to movements. Reminder there are THREE big blood vessels in your liver, hitting any one can lead to fatal internal bleeding.
I’m confused as you why you think the elasticity of the lungs would save you if you got shot there, when a bullet wound to the lungs is one of the most fatal wounds you can receive. In fact, it can quickly kill you to be shot in the lungs; not only will blood be entering your lungs, but the lungs will also collapse, with little to no ability to expand once again, especially if the chest wall fails. That depressurization alone can be enough to stop a person from breathing, leading to death. You know how when you pierce a balloon, it pops? The same thing happens to lungs when you shoot them; they just fall apart. Let’s not also forget about the shrapnel and bone fragments you have to worry about, as well as the HEART, which punctured, can bleed out within your chest cavity.
But yes, as many good hunters know, a shot to the chest can very well be lethal, and is one of the best shots you can take. Lung damage is hard damage to recover from; even piercing a lung with a broken rib can be risky business. So in the end, while the lungs may be more elastic than the liver, that is by no means a fact that will save your life; a shot to the chest is definitely not one you will be walking away from unscathed.
I’m not saying you will be saved if you get shot in the lungs, I’m just comparing a bullet to the lung to a liver as isolated cases. I’m not adding other variables such as if the heart was punctured/nipped or if rib fragments enter the lungs or if the bronchus gets hit. I am simply saying that in trauma, the wound track is not as severe. No doubt it is still fatal but I am in no way saying this happens in every gunshot wound scenario involving lungs vs. liver. After all there are too many variables to take into consideration (angle of entry, impact area, distance of shooting, if the victim was mobile or still, layers of clothing, gun type, bullet type etc.) Reminder that a lot of gunshot wounds are fatal because of the decay tissue left from the bullet tract as well as any bacterial infections from an unsanitary bullet, if the wound itself was not fatal itself.
"In liver struck by high-velocity bullets, however, the undulation of the temporary cavity loosens the hepatocytes from the cellular supporting tissue and produces a permanent cavity approximately the size of the temporary cavity. Lung, with a very low density (specific gravity of 0.04 to 0.5) and high degree of elasticity, is relatively resistant to the effects of temporary cavity formation, and has only a very little temporary cavity formed with very little tissue destruction."
-Gunshot Wounds: Practical Aspects of Firearms, Ballistics, and Forensic By Vincent J.M. DiMaio, M.D.
…but you WERE effectively saying that you will be saved by stating that a gunshot to the lungs would be more survivable than a gunshot to the liver. You said in your first post that getting shot in the lungs, because it creates a smaller entry wound, you were more likely to survive. However, a bullet wound and the size of that wound is hardly a determining factor in the survivability of that wound. Even if you take out other variables like the heart or bone, the lungs STILL DEFLATE after being shot, and since the chest cavity is harmed in the process, they have a hard time reinflating; aka you cannot breathe properly after being shot to the lung; your lung effectively collapses like a balloon. That is what makes a shot to the lungs so fatal, not the trauma the shot causes. The body can recover from trauma; it has a harder time recovering from oxygen deprivation.
Also, bullets are not dirty objects; bullet wounds are actually very clean objects because they travel at such high velocities from the muzzle and at such high temperatures that bacteria is effectively burned off, creating a sterile environment. So while the wound can become infected (just like any wound that goes beneath the skin layer), it is more likely due to the elements, not the bullet itself. Aka: there’s no such thing as an unsanitary bullet.