Iraqi Freedom low casualty rates compared with other recent conflicts

Military neurosurgeons serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom have recently reported a significant decrease in casualty rates compared with other recent conflicts.

The study, “The Neurosurgical Experience at an Echelon 5 Facility During Operation Iraqi Freedom,” will be presented from 12 to 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday, May 5, 2004, during the 72nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons in Orlando, Florida. Authors of the study include Jonathan E. Martin, MD; Randy Bell, MD; William T. Monacci, MD; Ross R. Moquin, MD; James M. Ecklund, MD, and Geoff S. Ling, MD.

Operation Iraqi Freedom is the largest mobilization of American military forces in the past decade. The authors review the clinical experience of a neurosurgical service providing care to personnel evacuated to the primary stateside United States Army medical facility during the military phase of the operation.

To review and evaluate the neurosurgical service, the authors consulted with all aeromedical evacuees to Walter Reed Army Medical Center from March 15 to May 15, 2003. All completed consults were then categorized based on the type of illness and injury, evacuation time from the point of injury, and location of the performed intervention.

The results of the review indicate that a total of 56 patients were admitted to, or received consultation from, the neurosurgical service during this time period. The patients within this group included those with closed- and penetrating head injuries, and spine and peripheral nerve injuries, in addition to noncombatant neurosurgical disease. Patients had received neurosurgical care at one of a number of facilities including combat support hospitals, hospital ships, host nation facilities and stateside medical centers. The penetrating head and spine injuries discovered were limited to regions not covered by antiballistic helmets and/or body armor.

“Our study of medical evacuees found a substantial decrease in the overall casualty rate, compared to other recent military conflicts,” said William T. Monacci, MD. “We believe that renewed and updated technical and tactical battlefield techniques as well as advances in protective wear seemed to reduce the number of wounded soldiers.”

Authors concluded that the medical center had a critical role in the ongoing management of severely injured casualties.

Founded in 1931 as the Harvey Cushing Society, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) is a scientific and educational association with more than 6,500 members worldwide. The AANS is dedicated to advancing the specialty of neurological surgery in order to provide the highest quality of neurosurgical care to the public. All active members of the AANS are certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (Neurosurgery) of Canada or the Mexican Council of Neurological Surgery, AC. Neurological surgery is the medical specialty concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of disorders that affect the entire nervous system including the spinal column, spinal cord, brain and peripheral nerves.

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