Traumatic amputation: shark bite

Case contributed by Dr J. Ray Ballinger


Young adult male surfing in murky water received a bite from a tiger shark. The second set of images is another case of shark bite with a similar history.

Patient Data

Gender: Male

Case 1

Amputation of the leg is seen just above the ankle. The bone edges show a somewhat irregular surface. Suspected small bone fragments are seen in the soft tissues adjacent to the ends of the tibia and fibula.


Images of the distal leg shows traumatic amputation of the foot with fracture of the medial malleolus and subtle abrasions of the cortical bone in upper lower leg most visible on the lateral view of the upper tibia (series 2).

The post surgical specimen shows a below-the-knee amputation with severe trauma to the soft tissues.

Case Discussion

Shark bites are uncommon with fewer than 100 documented around the world annually. A tiger shark is one of the more common sharks involved. Frequently the victim is splashing or in murky water resulting in the shark confusing the human with a sea turtle, ray or other usual prey. It is best to avoid the surf near the mouth of rivers after it has been raining.

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Case information

rID: 24474
Published: 19th Aug 2013
Last edited: 16th Jul 2018
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included

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