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Reader Question: Blood Jets

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Reader  shoebill-san asks:

are blood jets realistic? when someone gets shot in the movies?

This one’s a bit tough to boil down to a yes or a no, honestly. While piercing an artery can cause jetting (more on that below), movies tend to exaggerate the effect. And even among Hollywood movies, there’s a broad variation in how wounds are represented. I’m pretty sure no one thinks that blood actually behaves like it does in Monty Python or a Tarantino film!

That said, depending on the wound, there can be a jetting effect thanks to the pulsing of our hearts. Scientists have even worked to numerically simulate human blood flow after a wound. I’ve included a video example above. Be warned – some viewers may find it gross. That said, there’s nothing all that graphic on display.

As you can see, wounds to arteries have an apparent jetting motion thanks to our pulses. Bleeding from veins tends to look more uniform because the pressure pulse caused by each heartbeat has been smoothed out by the viscous effects of all the blood vessels in between. (Video credit: K. Chong et al.)

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