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Mil Med. 1999 Apr;164(4):256-60.

Civilian versus military trauma dogma: who do you trust?

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  • 1Department of Surgery, David Grant Medical Center, Travis Air Force Base, CA 94535, USA.


Combat trauma differs from its peacetime counterpart by involving a different spectrum of injuries, occurring in austere environments, dealing with mass casualties, and embodying inherent treatment delays. Thus, civilian trauma practices may be inappropriate in certain combat settings. A review of historical as well as current vivilian and military data is presented for four trauma topics (military antishock trousers, wound debridement, colon wounds, fluid resuscitation) in which civilian and military principles have clashed. The following recommendations are made. (1) Military antishock trousers are still useful in a combat setting. (2) Soft-tissue wound management should be directed by the wound rather than by the weapon. (3) Cautious avoidance of colostomy may be indicated in certain wartime colon wounds. (4) The majority of combat casualties require early vigorous fluid resuscitation. When civilian trauma experience challenges military dogma, it must be carefully considered before being applied to a combat setting.

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