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Featured Articles

Spring 2010

160th Soar(a) Flight Medic Specialized Training: The Special Operations Aviation Medical Indoctrination Course

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Faudree LK. 10(2). 4 - 6. (Journal Article)

The Ultrasound Detection Of Simulated Long Bone Fractures By U. S. Army Special Forces Medics

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Heiner JD, Baker BL, McArthur TJ. 10(2). 7 - 10. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Introduction: U.S. Army Special Forces Medics (18Ds) operate in austere environments where decisions regarding patient management may be limited by available resources. Portable ultrasound may allow for the detection of fractures in environments where other imaging modalities such as radiography are not readily available or practical. Objective: We used a simulation training model for the ultrasound diagnosis of long bone fractures to study the ability of 18Ds to detect the presence or absence of a fracture using a portable ultrasound. Methods: The fracture simulation model is composed of a bare turkey leg bone that is mechanically fractured and housed in a shallow plastic container within an opaque gelatin base solution. Five fracture patterns were created: transverse, segmental, oblique, comminuted, and no fracture. After a brief orientation session, twenty 18Ds evaluated the models in a blinded fashion with a SonoSite M-Turbo portable ultrasound device for the presence or absence of a fracture. Results: 18Ds demonstrated 100% sensitivity (95% CI: 94.2% to 100%) in fracture detection and an overall specificity of 90% (95% CI: 66.8-98.2%) due to two false positive assessments of the no fracture model. Conclusions: Using a portable ultrasound device, 18Ds were able to correctly detect the presence or absence of a simulated long bone fracture with a high degree of sensitivity and specificity. Future studies are needed to investigate the clinical impact of this diagnostic ability.

Fracture Detection In A Combat Theater: Four Cases Comparing Ultrasound To Conventional Radiography

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Hubler DA, Lopez RA, Morgan AR, Vasios WN. 10(2). 11 - 15. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Ultrasound (US) is rapid, non-invasive, simple, effective, and presents a viable and practical alternative to conventional radiography (CR) for the Special Forces Medical Sergeant (18D), particularly in the deployed setting. The authors present four cases that illustrate the ability of US used by the 18D to detect fractures in a combat theater. This success invites a debate as to what extent the Special Operations Forces (SOF) community should field US as it demonstrates a number of distinct advantages over the existing gold standard of portable conventional radiography.

Special Operator Level Clinical Ultrasound: An Experience In Application And Training

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Morgan AR, Vasios WN, Hubler DA, Benson PJ. 10(2). 16 - 24. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Over the past few decades, ultrasound has evolved from a radiology and subspecialist-centric instrument, to a common tool for bedside testing in a variety of specialties. The SOF community is now recognizing the relevancy of training medics to employ this technology for multiple clinical indications in the austere operating environment. In the Fall 2008 issue of Journal of Special Operations Medicine two of the authors described the concept of training SOF medics to employ portable ultrasound as a diagnostic aid. After over two years of concerted effort, the authors trained 29 out of 40 medics of a Special Forces battalion. Retrospective analysis of the quality assurance data for ultrasound studies conducted placed the 109 studies into six categories, allowing inference of trends in clinical indication for ultrasound exams as determined by the SOF medic-ultrasonographer. The resulting distribution suggests that indications for fractures and superficial applications are as prevalent as those for focused abdominal sonography in trauma (FAST) and pneumothorax exams. This analysis focuses on Special Operator Level Clinical Ultrasound (SOLCUS), an ultrasound training curriculum specifically for SOF medics, and helps appropriately prioritize its objectives. Despite the success of this experience, there are several issues requiring resolution before being able to integrate ultrasound training and fielding into the SOF medical armamentarium.

Injury Profile For Airborne Operations Untilizing The Sf-10a Maneuverable Parachute

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Deaton TG, Roby JL. 10(2). 22 - 25. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this investigation was to determine the injury profile of the steerable, SF-10A, static-line parachute. Methods: The investigation evaluated prospectively 972 low-level static-line training jumps for major injuries that required CASEVAC from the drop zone and for minor injuries that allowed the jumpers to continue with their training mission. Results: The investigation found overall injury rates to be 8.23 per 1000 jumps, with 2.03 per 1000 jumps requiring CASEVAC. Conclusions: Overall attrition rates of the steerable SF-10A parachute were below those of previously reported non-steerable parachutes, suggesting further evaluation is warranted of maneuverable parachutes in all military services.

Special Forces Medic (18d) And Medical Planning

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Ware OL. 10(2). 26 - 27. (Journal Article)

Internal Decapitation - High Ligamentus Cervical Injury

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Ben-Galim P. 10(2). 31 - 34. (Previously Published)

Permission to publish this presentation in the JSOM was granted by author

Internal Decapitation: Survival After Head To Neck Dissociation Injuries

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Ben-Galim P, Sibai TA, Hipp JA, Heggeness MH, Reitman CA. 10(2). 35 - 39. (Previously Published)

Previously published in Spine, Volume 33, Number 16, pp 17441749. Permission to republish granted by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

Abstract

Study Design: Case series. Objective: To describe survival and outcomes after occipitocervical dissociation injuries. Summary of Background Data: Historically, occipitocervical dissociation injuries have a high rate of associated neurologic deficit with a relatively high incidence of mortality. Methods: Six patients with occipitocervical dissociation injuries are reported and their management and imaging findings reviewed. Possible contributory factors for survival are discussed. Results: All patients had upper neck and head dissociation injuries. The pattern of injury in all of these cases included a distraction type mechanism. All cases demonstrated soft tissue disruption in the zone of injury, which was consistent and apparent on all imaging studies. In these patients, the extent and severity of injury was more apparent on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) than on radiograph or computed tomography scan. Management of these injuries included immobilization followed by surgery with particular care taken to avoid application of distraction forces to the neck. Conclusion: Patients with occipitocervical dissociation injuries may survive their injury and even retain neurologic integrity. Initial in-line head stabilization is emphasized to prevent catastrophic neurologic injury. The resting osseous relationships and vertebral alignment at the time of imaging evaluation may be deceivingly normal, and the damage often primarily or exclusively involves disruption of the perivertebral soft tissue structures. Prevertebral soft tissue swelling was apparent in all cases. For these injuries that involve primarily damage to the ligamentous structures, MRI seems to be the optimal test for revealing the magnitude of the injury.

Keywords: soft tissue spinal injury; MRI; head to neck dissociation; occipitocervical dissociation; upper neck injury