Combat related vascular injuries: Dutch experiences from a role 2 MTF in Afghanistan

Thijs T.C.F. Van Dongen*, Floris J. Idenburg, Edward C.T.H. Tan, Todd E. Rasmussen, Jaap F. Hamming, Luke P.H. Leenen, Rigo Hoencamp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background In a combat environment, major vascular trauma endures as the leading cause of death. The Dutch role 2 Medical Treatment Facility (MTF), provided supportive care during the mission in Uruzgan, Afghanistan. Aim of this study was to conduct detailed analysis of the admitted major haemorrhages (vascular injuries) and to compare our findings with NATO coalition partners. Methods Retrospective, descriptive study. Participants eligible for this study came from the role 2 MTF admission database, where they fitted the criteria 'Major haemorrhage (class 2 haemorrhage or more according to the ATLS® classification) between 2006 and 2010'. Results were contrasted with studies from coalition partners. Results The query revealed 194 casualties sustaining 208 central (60% abdominal, 40% thoracic/neck), and 99 extremity major haemorrhages leading to 1.6 major haemorrhages per casualty. Survival was significantly better (p < 0.05) in the peripheral vascular injuries cohort (96% versus 72%). Primary amputation was needed in 73/84 of lower, and in 8/15 of upper extremity major haemorrhages. Vascular repair or vascular Damage Control Surgery techniques (e.g. shunting) were used in 19/84 cases in the lower, and 7/15 in the upper extremity cohort, with a success rate of 69.2 percent. Amputation rates of coalition partners, using different inclusion and exclusion criteria, ranged from 5 to 60 percent. Conclusions Only in a few cases genuine peripheral vascular surgery was needed (<1%). This limited number of reconstructions does not demonstrate the need for extensive skills in all areas of vascular surgery. Achieved success rate until discharge was almost 70%. Vascular damage control surgery seems effective as initial limb saving skill in a role 2 MTF. The difference in usage of definitions concerning vascular injuries in current literature warrants further assessment. For optimal analysis there is need for detailed (NATO wide) registration with uniform definitions for vascular injuries. Level of evidence Level IV - Epidemiologic study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-98
Number of pages5
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Afghanistan
  • Military
  • Reconstruction
  • Repair
  • Shunt
  • Training
  • Vascular


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