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Innovative Care Is Helping Iraq War's Injured Survive
Date:3/24/2008

Improvements mean 9 out of 10 with serious trauma live, often with little visible damage, surgeons say

MONDAY, March 24 (HealthDay News) -- After five years of war in Iraq, there's some relatively good medical news about the casualties over there: more than 90 percent are now surviving injuries that would have been fatal in previous conflicts.

In the March issue of The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, the surgical and treatment advances behind these gains are discussed in special articles by craniofacial surgeons who specialize in head and facial trauma injuries -- cases involving noses and lips ripped away in bomb blasts, skulls and jaws shattered by bullets, and skin sheared off by burning debris.

"Trauma that results from war, and trauma we see in hospital wards from car crashes, gang fights and more, are two different things. But by integrating the knowledge of military and civilian surgeons we are improving outcomes for the casualties of modern war and saving the lives of people who would never have survived years ago," said Dr. Mutaz B. Habal, director of the Tampa Bay Craniofacial Center in Tampa, Fla., and the journal's editor-in-chief.

According to surgeons who reported their experiences in the journal, changes to treatment guidelines and protocols based on surgical insights, ongoing data collection and analyses have resulted in better treatments for the wounded. In addition, the introduction of civilian trauma experts and weekly video conferences have improved continuity of care for injured soldiers throughout the Military Health System and into the Veterans' Administration system.

"Application of these lessons into training doctrines for standards of practice will ensure optimal outcomes for our patients of today and into the future for soldiers and civilians alike, should the need ever arise," wrote JCS contributor Col. W. Bryan Gamble, M.D., of the U.S. Army Medical Corps.


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