Evaluation of orthopaedic injuries in Operation Enduring Freedom

David L Lin, Kevin L Kirk, Kevin P Murphy, Kathleen A McHale, William C Doukas
Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma 2004, 18 (5): 300-5
Orthopaedic injuries constitute a majority of the combat casualties in recent U.S. military conflicts. Orthopaedic injuries sustained in Operation Enduring Freedom from December 2001 to January 2003 that were treated in forward-deployed military medical facilities and evacuated to a U.S. army medical center were reviewed. The spectrum of injuries included open fractures, amputations, neurovascular, and soft-tissue injuries. Forty-four patients (85%) received treatment beyond local wound care prior to arrival at a military medical center. Debridement and irrigation was the most commonly performed procedure due to the contaminated nature of these combat injuries. There were no infections among patients with open fractures, and no patients with external fixators had pin tract infections. None of the open fracture patients underwent primary internal fixation or primary wound closure. The average time from injury to wound coverage of the open fracture wounds was 12 days. Two amputations were infected and were treated with revision and delayed wound closure. There were no primary amputations done at our institution due to infection or ischemia. All arterial injuries underwent urgent revascularization in a field hospital. None of the arterial repairs required revision after evacuation to a medical center. Operation Enduring Freedom has been an excellent example of how early and aggressive intervention in a forward-deployed area has a significant effect on rehabilitative and reconstructive efforts at a rear echelon tertiary care center.

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