The author has no funding, financial relationships, or conflicts of interest to disclose.
Head and neck trauma in Iraq and Afghanistan: Different war, different surgery, lessons learned
Version of Record online: 1 APR 2013
Copyright © 2013 The American Laryngological, Rhinological and Otological Society, Inc.
Volume 123, Issue 10, pages 2411–2417, October 2013
How to Cite
Brennan, J. (2013), Head and neck trauma in Iraq and Afghanistan: Different war, different surgery, lessons learned. The Laryngoscope, 123: 2411–2417. doi: 10.1002/lary.24096
- Issue online: 23 SEP 2013
- Version of Record online: 1 APR 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 19 FEB 2013
- Manuscript Received: 11 FEB 2013
- improvised explosive device;
- mass casualty
The objectives are to compare and contrast the head and neck trauma experience in Iraq and Afghanistan and to identify trauma lessons learned that are applicable to civilian practice.
A retrospective review of one head and neck surgeon's operative experience in Iraq and Afghanistan was performed using operative logs and medical records.
The surgeon's daily operative log book with patient demographic data and operative reports was reviewed. Also, patient medical records were examined to identify the preoperative and postoperative course of care.
The head and neck trauma experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan were very different, with a higher percentage of emergent cases performed in Iraq. In Iraq, only 10% of patients were pretreated at a facility with surgical capabilities. In Afghanistan, 93% of patients were pretreated at such facilities. Emergent neck exploration for penetrating neck trauma and emergent airway surgery were more common in Iraq, which most likely accounted for the increased perioperative mortality also seen in Iraq (5.3% in Iraq vs. 1.3% in Afghanistan). Valuable lessons regarding soft tissue trauma repair, midface fracture repair, and mandible fracture repair were learned.
The head and neck trauma experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan were very different, and the future training for mass casualty trauma events should reflect these differences. Furthermore, valuable head and neck trauma lessons learned in both war zones are applicable to the civilian practice of trauma.
Level of Evidence
Level 4. Laryngoscope, 123:2411–2417, 2013