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Combat Injuries: A Matter of Life and Death
Date:4/1/2009

Fast Response by Orthopaedic Surgeons in the Combat Theater Contributes to Saving Lives

ROSEMONT, Ill., April 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Orthopaedic surgeons play a crucial role in the care of active duty military personnel according to a Forum article in the April 2009 issue of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS). Surgical teams are providing treatment as soon as possible after injury, thereby saving lives and helping injured personnel obtain optimal function.

Author Capt. (Dr.) Dana C. Covey, orthopaedic surgeon from Naval Medical Center San Diego, says, "Most military personnel who die from combat trauma do so because they bleed to death. If they live through that first golden 15 minutes, they often gain another two or three critical hours. Consequently we try and get patients to our forward surgical teams as soon as possible."

"Many medical advances have been made during wartime, because it stimulates research and experimentation with new ideas. These advances play a role in survival and optimal function in people who are injured." For instance, the basis for the U.S. regional trauma center system came out of the Vietnam War. "Many advances in orthopaedics have evolved because orthopaedic surgeons are integrally involved in the treatment of those personnel with war wounds," noted Dr. Covey.

Orthopaedic surgeons are highly skilled at repairing the limb injuries that comprise approximately 70 percent of combat injuries. Those injuries are typically caused by high-energy weapons and are highly damaging to bone and soft-tissue. Injuries caused by explosive devices are common in Iraq and often combine penetrating, blunt, and burn injuries.

In Iraq, nine out of 10 wounded service members survive. This highest survival rate in history is probably the result of multiple factors including:

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SOURCE American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
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