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J Craniofac Surg. 2010 Sep;21(5):1529-37. doi: 10.1097/SCS.0b013e3181f3ed9c.

Management of war-related burn injuries: lessons learned from recent ongoing conflicts providing exceptional care in unusual places.

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Euro-Mediterranean Council for Burns and Fire Disasters-MBC, Palermo, Italy.


Thermal injury is a sad but common and obligatory component of armed conflicts. Although the frequency of noncombat burns has decreased, overall incidence of burns in current military operations has nearly doubled during the past few years. Burn injuries in the military environment do not need to be hostile in nature. Burns resulting from carelessness outnumber those resulting from hostile action. Unfortunately, civilians are becoming the major targets in modern-day conflicts; they account for more than 80% of those killed and wounded in present-day conflicts. The provision of military burn care mirrors the civilian standards; however, several aspects of treatment of war-related burn injuries are peculiar to the war situation itself and to the specific conditions of each armed conflict. Important aspects of management of burned military personnel include triage to ensure that available medical care resources are matched to the severity of burn injury and the number of burn casualties, initial management and resuscitation in the combat zone, and subsequent evacuation to higher echelons of medical care, each with increasing medical capabilities. Care of military victims is usually well structured and follows strict guidelines for first aid and evacuation to field hospitals by military personnel usually having had some form of training in first aid and resuscitation and for which necessary equipment and material for such interventions are more or less available. Options available for civilian injury intervention in wartime, however, are limited. Of all pre-hospital transport of civilian victims, 70% are done by lay public and 93% receive in the field, or during transport, some form of basic first aid administered by relatives, friends, or other first responders not trained for such interventions. Civilian casualties frequently represents 60% to 80% of all injured admitted to the level III facilities of overseas forces stationed throughout the host country. Unlike military personnel who are rapidly evacuated to higher echelons IV and V for definitive and long-term care, civilians must receive definitive burn treatment at these level III military facilities. The present review was intended to highlight peculiar aspects of war-related burn injuries of both military personnel and civilians and their management based on the most recently published material that, for the most part, is related to the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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