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Featured Articles

Summer 2012

Exertional Heat Stroke: Clinical Significance and Practice Indications for Special Operations Medics and Providers

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Johnston J, Donham B. 12(2). 2 - 7. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Exertional heat stroke is an acute injury associated with high morbidity and mortality, and is commonly encountered within military and Special Operations environments. With appropriate planning, rapid diagnosis, and aggressive treatment significant mortality reduction can be obtained. Planning for both training and real world operations can decrease the patient's morbidity and mortality and increase the chances of successful handling of a patient with exertional heat stroke. The mainstay of treatment is rapid reduction of the core body temperature. This is paramount both at the field level of care as well as in a clinical setting. Diligent surveillance for commonly encountered complications includes anticipating electrolyte abnormalities, rhabdomyolysis, acute renal failure, and hepatic injuries. Treatment with dantrolene may be indicated in patients with continued hyperthermia despite aggressive traditional treatment.

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Rethinking Heat Injury in the SOF Multipurpose Canine: A Critical Review

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Baker JL, Hollier PJ, Miller L, Lacy WA. 12(2). 8 - 15. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Heat injury is a significant concern of the Special Operations Forces Multipurpose Canine (SOF MPC). The unique athletic abilities and working environment of the SOF MPC differ from that of companion dogs or even conventional military working dogs. This should be considered in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heat injury of the SOF MPC. A critical review of the literature on canine heat injury as it pertains to working dogs demonstrates limited scientific evidence on best practices for immediate clinical management of heat injury in SOF MPCs. A majority of management guidelines for heat injury in veterinary reference books and journals are based on review articles or professional opinion of the author vs. evidence from original research. In addition, guidelines are written primarily for companion animal populations vs. SOF MPCs and focus on measures to be undertaken in a clinical setting vs. point of injury. The phenomenon of "circular referencing" is also prevalent in the heat injury literature. Current guidelines supported by review articles and textbooks often provide no citation or cite other review articles for clinical standards such as normal temperature ranges, treatment methods, and recurrence of heat injury. This "circular referencing" phenomenon misrepresents anecdotal evidence and professional opinion as scientifically validated, reinforcing concepts and recommendations that are not truly supported by the evidence. Further study is needed to fully understand heat injury in SOF MPCs and how this applies to prevention, diagnosis and treatment guidelines. In order to provide SOF canine programs with best clinical advice and care, SOF Veterinarians must make clinical judgments based on evaluation of the most accurate and valid information possible. Clinical guidelines are fluid and should be reviewed regularly for relevance to the defined population in question. Clinical Guidelines should also be utilized as guiding principles in conjunction with clinical judgment vs. dictate a clinical protocol. SOF veterinarians as the veterinary support asset to SOF MPC programs should be clinically competent as well as versed in evidence based medicine practices to provide the cutting edge clinical support that is required to keep SOF MPCs operating in modern warfare environments.

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Salmon Thrombin-Fibrinogen Dressing Allows Greater Survival and Preserves Distal Blood Flow Compared to Standard Kaolin Gauze in Coagulopathic Swine with a Standardized Lethal Femoral Artery Injury

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Floyd CT, Rothwell SW, Risdahl J, Martin R, Olson CE, Rose N. 12(2). 16 - 26. (Journal Article)

Abstract

We have previously shown that lyophilized salmon thrombin and fibrinogen (STF) embedded in a dissolvable dextran dressing is as efficacious as Combat Gauze™ (CG) with regard to controlling hemorrhage and survival in non-coagulopathic swine with femoral artery lacerations. A major limitation of currently available advanced field dressings is the inability to control hemorrhage in coagulopathic casualties because of the exhaustion of host coagulation proteins. We tested the hypothesis that the STF dressing would be better able to control hemorrhage and prolong survival in coagulopathic swine compared to CG. Survival rate was 50% in CG-treated animals versus 90% in STF-treated animals. Survival time was significantly greater in STF-treated animals. Clots formed over the arterial injury in 100% of STF-treated animals compared to 0% in CG-treated animals (ρ < 0.001). STF-treated animals consumed less host coagulation factors, including platelets (ρ = 0.03). Survival after limb manipulation that simulated casualty evacuation was significantly higher with the STF dressing (ρ < 0.005). Angiographic observation of distal blood flow was seen twice as often with the STF dressing as with CG. The STF dressing allows a high survival rate, significantly greater survival time, and a significantly more stable dressing than CG in coagulopathic swine. The clot formed by the STF dressing also enables restoration of distal blood flow to the limb potentially resulting in higher limb salvage.

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NATO Special Operations Forces Medical Engagements and Partnering Course: Initial Curriculum Recommendations from the NSHQ SOFMEP Committee

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Alderman SM, Arvidsson CJ, Boedeker BH, Durck CH, Ferguson JL, Harreld CE, House JH, Irizarry DJ, Oshiki MS, Sanchack KE, Torres JE. 12(2). 27 - 32. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Military partnering operations and military engagements with host nation civil infrastructure are fundamental missions for NATO Special Operations Forces (SOF) conducting military assistance operations. Unit medical advisors are frequently called upon to support partnering operations and execute medical engagements with host nation health systems. As a primary point of NATO SOF medical capability development and coordination, the NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ) sought to create a practical training opportunity in which medical advisors are taught how to prepare for, plan, and execute these complex military assistance operations. An international committee of SOF medical advisors, planners and teachers was assembled to research and develop the curriculum for the first NSHQ SOF Medical Engagement and Partnering (SOFMEP) course. The committee found no other venues offering the necessary training. Furthermore, a lack of a common operating language and inadequate outcome metrics were identified as sources of knowledge deficits that create confusion and inhibit process improvement. These findings provided the foundation of this committee's curricular recommendations. The committee constructed operational definitions to improve understanding and promote dialogue between medical advisors and commanders. Active learning principles were used to construct a curriculum that engages learners and enhances retention of new material. This article presents the initial curriculum recommendations for the SOFMEP course, which is currently scheduled for October 2012.

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Preparing Soldiers for the Stress of Combat

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Flanagan SC, Kotwal RS, Forsten RD. 12(2). 33 - 41. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Protracted use of stressors during military training courses does not necessarily enhance a Soldier's ability to regulate stress on the battlefield. Extensive stress during training can be a contributing factor to suboptimal neurologic and overall long-term health. Prolonged high-stress military training programs, as well as extended duration combat deployments, should be comprehensively scrutinized for opportunities to preserve health and increase combat effectiveness. Contemporary research in neuroscience and psychology can provide insight into training techniques that can be used to control stress and optimize performance in combat. Physical fitness training programs can elevate the stress threshold. Extensive situational training can also inoculate Soldiers to specific combat stressors. Training methods such as these will enable Soldiers to achieve higher levels of performance while under enemy fire and are encouraged for units deploying to combat.

Keywords: combat stress; military training; military deployment; physical training; posttraumatic stress disorder; sleep deprivation; stress inoculation training

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PTSD: An Elusive Definition

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Kirkbride JF. 12(2). 42 - 47. (Journal Article)

Abstract

The Global War on Terrorism became the longest standing conflict in United States military history on June 7, 2010. It is estimated that 1.64 million U.S. troops have been deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (ρ xix).1 Both conflicts have produced high numbers of casualties as the result of ground combat. The amount of casualties though has been relatively low compared to other conflicts. Some of this can be attributed to the advances in body armor and emergency medicine that allow many servicemembers to survive conditions that previously led to death. Conversely, surviving these situations leaves those same members with memories that are psychologically difficult to live with and cause chronic difficulties. Unlike an amputee, or the victim of severe burns where the signs and symptoms of their injuries are obvious, patients with psychological disorders can have a range of signs and symptoms common in many other mental disorders, making it difficult to diagnose and treat Soldiers suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

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Regimented Techniques Facilitate a Rapid Ascent to Very High Altitude: A Controlled Study

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Anglim AM, Boyd DW. 12(2). 48 - 57. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Objective: For travel to high altitudes, most experts advise a gradual ascent regimen to prevent acute mountain sickness (AMS). Such standard recommendations are applied to the general public. It is generally thought, however, that those whose work requires frequent rapid ascents, such as military personnel, porters and guides, often make these ascents without adequate preventive measures and then, experience significant morbidity and potential mortality due to AMS. The aim of this study were to demonstrate that the risk of rapid ascents can be mitigated if performed with adherence to a structured nutrition and hydration plan, carrying controlled loads, and taking specific prescribed rest periods during the ascent. Methods: This study used a randomized controlled trial of a group of Nepali porters, guides, and a Westerner with similar characteristics, all participating in their first ascent of the early Himalayan season. Data collected each day included oxygen saturation (SpO(2)), heart rate (HR), weight, and blood pressure (BP). Data was collected every 300 meters(m) (1,000 feet [ft]) and at the same time and altitude at each days end. Ascent profiles, age, gender, ethnic origin, altitude of residence and experience at altitude were also obtained. In four days, a control group of Nepali porters and a Sherpa guide and an equal number of Nepali porters and a Sherpa guide in an intervention group, (led by a Westerner) went from Kathmandu (1,300m), to the summit of Kala Pattar (5,640m), and Everest Base Camp (5,380m), averaging approximately 1,000m (3,500ft) gain a day in altitude, with no acclimatization rest days. During the rapid ascent from 4,300ft to 18,500ft, a regimented program was followed by the intervention group, while the control group ascended using their traditional methods as Nepali porters and Sherpa guides. Values are given as mean ± SE. T-test, ANOVA, and Mann-Whitney tests were used to compare variables. Results: Based on mean SpO(2) measurements on the summit of Kala Pattar at 5,640m (18,500ft), the intervention group had a SpO(2) of 79.5% ± 3.209 and the control group's mean SpO(2) was 74.5% ± 3.109 (ρ = .076). Importantly, two participants dropped out of the control group at 4,900m with SpO(2) scores of 77 and 71. The ANOVA results between the groups SpO(2) at 5,640m was significant at p ≥ .04. Mann Whitney U test results demonstrate a significant (U = 21.5, p = .04) difference in median SpO(2) levels between the intervention and the control groups. This indicates that employing a regimented program is vital to the objective of sustaining adequate SpO(2) levels and yielding a successful climb. The intervention group that followed the regimented nutrition, hydration, and rest period program performed physiologically superior to the control group, especially on the longest (10 hours), highest (5,640m), and greatest altitude gain (1,090m) day-despite resting for five minutes every 25 minutes of hiking. This was achieved with no acclimatization days, and each participant residing at low altitude. Conclusions: Participants who followed a structured nutrition, hydration plan, and adhered to prescribed rest periods, performed physiologically superior to the control group who did not. Two control group participants dropped out with poor physiological measurements. This aggressive ascent profile mirrors encountered work demands on military personnel, professional porters, and guides. The beneficial effect was significant and could provide superior methods to those whose duties require aggressive ascent profiles. The implications of frequent rest periods (10 minutes an hour), a high-carbohydrate diet, and at least 3,000ml of fluid a day appear to factually present a physiologically superior method to trekking at high to very-high altitudes. The health implications for trekkers to the Himalaya (or to any place at high altitude) by using a similar regimented program are that it may allow for an AMS-free, more enjoyable experience at altitude.

Keywords: high altitude; prevention of AMS; rapid ascent; military; Nepal; Sherpa; Porter

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Field Diagnosis and Treatment of Ophthalmic Trauma

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Calvano CJ, Enzenauer RW. 12(2). 58 - 64. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Identification and management of injuries to the eyes and ocular adnexa is commonly encountered by frontline medical personnel. This brief review is intended for the Special Forces Medic of all branches and describes the clinical presentation of common ophthalmic and periocular trauma with appropriate management strategies. Prompt recognition of these wounds facilitates early treatment and optimized visual outcomes for affected Soldiers and civilians alike.

Keywords: trauma; eye; ophthalmology; vision; open globe

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Comparison of Airway Control Methods and Ventilation Success With an Automatic Resuscitator

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Rodriquez D, Gomaa D, Blakeman T, Petroa M, Dorlac WC, Johannigman J, Branson R. 12(2). 65 - 70. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Mechanical ventilation in an austere environment is difficult owing to logistics, training, and environmental conditions. We evaluated the ability of professional caregivers to provide ventilatory support to a simulated patient using the Simplified Automated Ventilator (SAVe) with a mask hand attended ventilation, mask with single strap unattended ventilation, and supraglottic airway (King LT) ventilation. All three methods were performed using a SAVe with a set tidal volume of 600ml and respiratory rate of 10 breaths per minute. The simulator consisted of a head and upper torso with anatomically correct upper airway structures, trachea, esophagus, and lung which, also measured the delivered tidal volume, respiratory rate, inspiratory flow, and airway pressures. Volunteers used each airway control method to provide ventilation for 10 minutes in random order. Success of each technique was judged as a mean delivered tidal volume of > 500ml. The major finding of this study was that medical professionals using SAVe resuscitator and the manufacturer supplied face mask with single head strap failed to ventilate the airway model in every case.

Keywords: SAVe; ventilation; airway management; prehospital; mask ventilation

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High Intensity Scenario Training of Military Medical Students to Increase Learning Capacity and Management of Stress Response

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Mueller G, Moloff A, Wedmore I, Schoeff J, LaPorta AJ. 12(2). 71 - 76. (Journal Article)

Abstract

A delicate balance exists between a beneficial stress response that enhances memory and recall performance and a detrimental high stress response that impairs memory and learning. Repetitive training in stressful situations enables people to lower their stress levels from the detrimental range to a more beneficial one.1 This is particularly true for physicians in training as they seek to achieve advanced skills and knowledge in the fields of triage, emergency medicine, and surgery prior to graduation. This need is significant for medical students entering military service after graduation. We theorize that military medical students can advance their proficiencies through an Intensive Skills Week (ISW) prior to entering their third and forth year rotations. To test this theory, Rocky Vista University will hold a week long high-intensity first-responder, emergency medicine and surgical training course, facilitated by military medical physicians, to further students' skills and maximize training using the Human Worn Partial Surgical Task Simulator (Cut Suit). We also see the possible benefit to physician and non-physician military personnel, especially Special Operations Forces (SOF) medical personnel, from developing and implementing similar training programs when live tissue or cadaver models are unavailable or not feasible.

Keywords: stress; cortisol; medical student; enhanced learning scenario; high intensisty

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A Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study to Define Optimal Needle Length for Humeral Head IO Devices

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Rush SC, Bremer J, Foresto C, Rubin AM, Anderson PI. 12(2). 77 - 82. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Introduction: Intraosseous (IO) devices have gained popularity because of TCCC. The ability to gain access to the vascular system when intra venous access is not possible, and techniques such as central lines or cut-downs are beyond the scope of battlefield providers and tactically not feasible, has lead to the increased use of IO access. Since tibias are often not available sites in blast injury patients, the sternum was often used. Recently the humeral head has gained popularity because of ease of access and placement. The optimal needle length has not been defined or studied. Methods and Materials: Fifty consecutive shoulder MRIs among 18-40 year old patients were reviewed. Distances from the skin surface to the cortex from anterior and lateral trajectories were simulated and measured. Two different lateral trajectories were studied described as lateral minimum and lateral maximum trajectories, correlating with seemingly less and greater soft tissue. The cortical thickness was also recorded. Mean values and ranges for the measurements were determined. Results: The anterior trajectory represented the shortest distance. Mean anterior, mean lateral minimum and mean lateral maximum distances were 2.3, 3.0 and 4.7cm with corresponding ranges of 1.1-4.1, 1.6-5.7 and 2.8-7.4cm respectively. The cortical thickness was 4mm in all cases. Conclusions: Although this information was gathered amongst civilians, and many military members may have more soft tissue, these results indicate that needle length generally in the 40-50mm range should be used via the anterior approach. Use of a standard 25mm needle often used in the tibia would be inadequate in over half the cases, and may result in undue tissue compression or distortion.

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A Review of Reduction Techniques for Anterior Glenohumeral Joint Dislocations

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Dannenbaum J, Krueger CA, Johnson AE. 12(2). 83 - 92. (Journal Article)

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This review article aims to describe the techniques, success rates, advantages and disadvantages of commonly used anterior shoulder reduction maneuvers. Methods: A review of literature was performed and each article was reviewed for the reported success rates, advantages, disadvantages and technical notes for each anterior shoulder reduction technique. Results: There are a wide variety of very successful shoulder reduction maneuvers, each with their own specific set of advantages and disadvantages. Conclusion: While there are some situations that may favor one of these anterior shoulder reduction techniques over another; it is largely left up to the healthcare provider to determine which maneuver is best on a patient-to-patient basis.

Keywords: shoulder dislocation; shoulder subluxation; shoulder reduction; orthopaedics; emergency medicine

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Green Ghosts

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Hester RA. 12(2). 103 - 103. (Book Review)

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Lt Col W.C. Floyd USMC (Ret)
iUniverse, 2004, 2006