U.S. military experience from 2001 to 2010 with extremity fasciotomy in war surgery

John F. Kragh, Michael A. Dubick, James K. Aden, Anne L. McKeague, Todd E. Rasmussen, David G. Baer, Lorne H. Blackbourne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

After trauma, compartment syndrome of the extremities is a common, disabling, and—if managed suboptimally—lethal problem. Its treatment by surgical fasciotomy continues to be useful but controversial. The purpose of this survey is to measure survival and fasciotomy in a large trauma system to characterize trends and to determine if fasciotomy is associated with improved survival. Methods: We retrospectively surveyed data from a military trauma registry for U.S. casualties from 2001 to 2010. Casualties had extremity injury or extremity fasciotomy. We associated survival and fasciotomy. Results: Of 17,166 casualties in the total study, 19% (3,313) had fasciotomy and 2.8% (481) had compartment syndrome. Annual fasciotomy rates started at 0% (2001) and rose to 26% (2010). For all casualties, the survival rate initially was high (100%) but decreased steadily until its nadir (96.4%) in 2005. Thereafter, it increased to make a V-shaped trend with reversal occurring after fielding two interventions within the trauma system specifically for casualties at risk for fasciotomy—tourniquet use and a fasciotomy education program. Conclusions: Over a decade of war, the survival rate of extremity injured casualties was associated with two trauma system interventions—tourniquet usage and a fasciotomy education program. The current example of measuring implementation of initiatives may be useful as a model for future attempted improvements in health care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-468
Number of pages6
JournalMilitary Medicine
Volume181
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2016
Externally publishedYes

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