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J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2006;14(10 Spec No.):S18-23.

The scope of wounds encountered in casualties from the global war on terrorism: from the battlefield to the tertiary treatment facility.

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Orthopaedic Trauma, Naval Medical Center, San Diego, CA, USA.


Injuries seen in Operation Iraqi Freedom range from those that can be managed with nonsurgical wound care only to those requiring amputation or multiple bony and soft-tissue procedures for limb salvage. The contamination and soft-tissue injury caused by exploding ordnance requires an aggressive treatment approach. Severe wounds treated near the battlefield (ie, level II) require meticulous surgical d├ębridement, early fracture stabilization, broad-spectrum antibiotics, and rapid evacuation. Treatment at a level III combat support hospital involves a greater volume of patients and a longer stay because of the presence of Iraqi national patients. In the authors' experience, most US patients requiring surgical treatment were evacuated to a level IV facility (ie, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center) after one or two surgeries. The basic war surgery principles of aggressive resuscitation, early and thorough d├ębridement, short-duration damage-control surgical procedures, and rapid evacuation were critical in our reduction of wound infection rates to below 7% for all admissions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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