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Fresh Whole Blood Transfusion for a Combat Casualty in Austere Combat Environment

Cordova CB, Cap AP, Spinella PC 14(1). 9 - 12 (Case Reports)

There are many challenges to treating life-threatening injuries for a healthcare provider deployed to a remote location in a combat setting. Once conventional treatment protocols for exsanguinating hemorrhage have been exhausted and no medical evacuation platform is available, a nonconventional method of treatment to consider is a fresh whole blood (FWB) transfusion. A FWB transfusion can be a life-saving or life-prolonging intervention in the appropriate setting. The authors present the case of a combat casualty in hypovolemic shock and coagulopathy with delayed medical evacuation to a surgical team. While the ultimate outcome was death in this case report, the patient arrived to a surgical team 15 hours after his injury, alert and oriented. In this scenario, FWB transfusion gave this patient the best chance of survival.

A Triple-Option Analgesia Plan for Tactical Combat Casualty Care: TCCC Guidelines Change 13-04

Butler FK, Kotwal RS, Buckenmaier CC, Edgar EP, O'Connor KC, Montgomery HR, Shackelford S, Gandy JV, Wedmore I, Timby JW, Gross K, Bailey JA 14(1). 13 - 25 (Journal Article)

Although the majority of potentially preventable fatalities among U.S. combat forces serving in Afghanistan and Iraq have died from hemorrhagic shock, the majority of U.S. medics carry morphine autoinjectors for prehospital battlefield analgesia. Morphine given intramuscularly has a delayed onset of action and, like all opioids, may worsen hemorrhagic shock. Additionally, on a recent assessment of prehospital care in Afghanistan, combat medical personnel noted that Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) battlefield analgesia recommendations need to be simplified-there are too many options and not enough clear guidance on which medication to use in specific situations. They also reported that ketamine is presently being used as a battlefield analgesic by some medics in theater with good results. This report proposes that battlefield analgesia be achieved using one or more of three options: (1) the meloxicam and Tylenol in the TCCC Combat Pill Pack for casualties with relatively minor pain who are still able to function as effective combatants; (2) oral transmucosal fentanyl citrate (OTFC) for casualties who have moderate to severe pain, but who are not in hemorrhagic shock or respiratory distress and are not at significant risk for developing either condition; or (3) ketamine for casualties who have moderate to severe pain but who are in hemorrhagic shock or respiratory distress or are at significant risk for developing either condition. Ketamine may also be used to increase analgesic effect for casualties who have previously been given opioids (morphine or fentanyl.)

Erythema Ab Igne

Gregory JF, Beute TC 13(4). 115 - 119 (Journal Article)

Erythema ab igne is a reticulated, erythematous, hyperpigmented dermatosis resulting from chronic mild to moderate heat exposure. The authors present two cases of erythema ab igne, one from a hot water bottle to treat chronic low back pain and another from a heated automobile seat. They review other reported etiologies and highlight scenarios in which military medical providers may encounter erythema ab igne.

Experience in Treating Combat Burns in Afghanistan by Using Silver-Nylon Dressing

Pozza M, Matthew P, Lunardi F 14(1). 1 - 5 (Case Reports)

Background: On the battlefield, insidious and devastating weapons like the improvised explosive device (IED) rapidly emit extreme heat (thousands of degrees), create a shock wave (overpressure) that can hurl bodies long distances (inducing secondary fall lesions), and deliver thousands of pieces of shrapnel over hundreds of meters. Materials and Methods: Very often, Soldiers injured by an IED blast are inside their vehicle. Subsequently, they are exposed to the thermal effects of the blast. Frequently, these patients have complex wounds that consist of extensive burn areas, bone fractures, and internal organ lesions. The use of silver-nylon burn wrap dressing is widely documented for its bactericidal properties. Silverlon® Burn Dressings is an elastic bandage made of nylon and plated with pure metallic silver. Results: In summer 2008, in a U.S. advanced Role 2 facility, two U.S. Soldiers with extensive second- and third-degree burn injuries were successfully treated with the use of Silverlon Burn Dressings and Silverlon® Burn Gloves. Conclusions: From this experience emerged the ease of use silver-nylon dressing in treating badly burned Soldiers on the battlefield.

Articulating Tractical Traction Splint Use on Pulseless Forearm Fracture

Schwartz DS 14(1). 6 - 8 (Journal Article)

An articulating tactical traction splint (REEL™ Tactical Traction Splint), commonly issued to U.S. military per-sonnel, was used to maintain traction in a pulseless fore-arm fracture during a confined space rescue, with good peripheral perfusion maintained through transport. This enabled a single rescuer to focus attention and provide care for other critical aspects of a multisystem trauma patient.

Tactical Medicine in Response to Acts of Terrorism

Tang N, Kelen GD 13(4). 109 - 110 (Journal Article)


Burnett MW 13(4). 113 - 114 (Journal Article)

Background: Pertussis, a disease that has been well described since the Middle Ages, has a worldwide distribution and can infect all ages. It is caused by the gram-negative, pleomorphic bacillus Bordetella pertussis, which is transmitted from human to human via aerosolized droplets at close range. Descriptions such as the one-hundred day cough in Chinese and whooping cough in English, describe the severity of this disease seen in both the developed and the developing world.

Management of Junctional Hemorrhage in Tactical Combat Casualty Care: TCCC Guidelines-Proposed Change 13-03

Kotwal RS, Butler FK, Gross K, Kheirabadi BS, Baer DG, Dubick MA, Rasmussen TE, Weber MA, Bailey JA 13(4). 85 - 93 (Journal Article)

The vast majority of combat casualties who die from their injuries do so prior to reaching a medical treatment facility. Although most of these deaths result from nonsurvivable injuries, efforts to mitigate combat deaths can still be directed toward primary prevention through modification of techniques, tactics, and procedures and secondary prevention through improvement and use of personal protective equipment. For deaths that result from potentially survivable injuries, mitigation efforts should be directed toward primary and secondary prevention as well as tertiary prevention through medical care with an emphasis toward prehospital care as dictated by the fact that the preponderance of casualties die in the prehospital environment. Since the majority of casualties with potentially survivable injuries died from hemorrhage, priority must be placed on interventions, procedures, and training that mitigate death from truncal, junctional, and extremity exsanguination. In response to this need, multiple novel and effective junctional tourniquets have recently been developed.

Tactical Emergency Casualty Care-Pediatric Appendix: Novel Guidelines for the Care of the Pediatric Casualty in the High-Threat, Prehospital Environment

Bobko JP, Lai TT, Smith R, Shapiro G, Baldridge T, Callaway DW 13(4). 94 - 107 (Journal Article)

Background: Active shooter events and active violent incidents are increasingly targeting civilians, placing children at heightened risk for complex and devastating trauma. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has identified as a priority preparing domestic first responders to manage complex mass casualty incidents as a primary step in strengthening our medical system. Existing literature suggests that many prehospital providers are uncomfortable treating critically ill or injured pediatric patients and that there is a gap in the consistent provision of high-quality trauma care to these patients. The success of threat-based care developed by the military has led to an exponential rise in the familiarity and utilization of these concepts within certain specialized elements of civilian care. Evolution of these concepts is accelerating to meet the demands of the nonmilitary civilian environment through the formation and subsequent work of the Committee for Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (C-TECC). However, a gap remains in the available literature describing the application of these principles to specialized populations. Methods: In the absence of an evidence-based set of guidelines for prehospital care of the pediatric casualty, the C-TECC sought to establish a set of peer-reviewed guidelines to serve as a foundation describing current best practices. The Pediatric Working Group (PWG) utilized the adult TECC guidelines as a starting point and identified a series of key questions regarding trauma interventions. The PWG conducted a standard PubMed search to identify key relevant or potentially relevant literature. The literature review was presented to the C-TECC Guidelines Committee for review and approval of recommended principles. Recommendations: Given the dearth of supporting literature on the subject, the TECC committee was purposefully conservative in the adaptation of the adult TECC guidelines to a pediatric standard. The guidelines highlight information tailored to the pediatric population and were designed to be a resource for individual agencies seeking guidance for high-threat operations. To our knowledge, the TECC Pediatric Appendix is the first published recommendation for the widespread use of tourniquets in pediatric hemorrhage. In addition, the Guidelines are meant to highlight gaps in trauma literature and stimulate discussion regarding future research in the area of prehospital care of the pediatric casualty.

Cessation of Vital Signs Monitored During Lethal Hemorrhage: A Swine Study

Bodo M, Pearce FJ, Tsai MD, Garcia A, vanAlbert S, Armonda R 13(4). 63 - 75 (Journal Article)

Introduction: Two challenges of trauma triage are to identify wounded who are in danger of imminent death and to enable medics to determine if resuscitation is possible when making "dead or alive" decisions on the battlefield. Hemorrhagic shock is the leading cause of death in combat injuries. The purpose of this study was to establish the sequence of vital sign cessation during lethal hemorrhage in swine. Our hypothesis was that brain electrical activity (electroencephalography [EEG]) and respiration are earlier indicators of imminent death than traditional modalities measured during triage, such as heart electrical activity (electrocardiography [ECG]) and blood pressure. Methods: Lethal hemorrhage was induced in anesthetized Yorkshire pigs. Vital sign modalities measured were respiration, heart electrical activity (ECG), heart sound, blood pressure (systemic arterial pressure), and brain electrical activity (EEG). Results: The sequence of vital sign cessation was (1) respiration, (2) brain electrical activity (EEG), (3) heart sound, (4) blood pressure, and (5) heart electrical activity (ECG). Cessation of respiration occurred at approximately the same time that brain electrical activity stopped ("flatlined") for 2 seconds and then resumed briefly before cessation; cessation of heart electrical activity occurred almost 8 minutes later. Conclusions: A 2-second EEG flatline and final respiration are useful event markers to indicate an opportunity to prevent irreversible brain damage from lethal hemorrhage. Since the 2-second EEG flatline and final respiration occur about 8 minutes before cessation of heart electrical activity (ECG), EEG and final respiration are earlier indicators of imminent death. The use of deployable noninvasive brain monitors implementing these findings can be live-saving on the battlefield as well is in civilian environments.

U.S. Military Experience With Junctional Wounds in War From 2001 to 2010

Kragh JF, Dubick MA, Aden JK, McKeague AL, Rasmussen TE, Baer DG, Blackbourne LH 13(4). 76 - 84 (Journal Article)

Background: In 2012, we reported on junctional wounds in war, but only of the few injuries that were critically severe. Objective: The purpose of the present study is to associate a wide range of junctional wounds and casualty survival over a decade in order to evidence opportunities for improvement in trauma care within a large healthcare system. Methods: We retrospectively surveyed data from a military trauma registry. We associated survival and injuries at the junction of the trunk and appendages in the current war (2001 to 2010). Results: The junctional injury rate rose 14-fold from 0%, its minimum in 2001, to 5%, its maximum in 2010. Of the 833 casualties with junctional injury in the study, the survival rate was 83%; its change was not statistically significant over time. Most casualties had severe extremity injuries and associated injuries of other body regions such as the face and head. Conclusions: Junctional injury is common, severe, disabling, and lethal. The findings of this study may increase awareness of junctional injury. Opportunities for improvement which we identified included further research on the future addition of junctional codes (such as neck diagnoses) in order to align research methods to clinical care.

Needle Thoracentesis Decompression: Observations From Postmortem Computed Tomography and Autopsy

Harcke HT, Mabry RL, Mazuchowski EL 13(4). 53 - 58 (Journal Article)

Background: Needle thoracentesis decompression (NTD) is a recommended emergency treatment for tension pneumothorax. Current doctrine recognizes two suitable sites: the second intercostal space in the midclavicular line and the fourth or fifth intercostal space in the anterior axillary line. Methods: A review was conducted of postmortem computed tomography and autopsy results in 16 cases where NTD was performed as an emergency procedure. Results: In 16 cases with 23 attempted procedures, the outcome was confirmed in 17 attempts. In 7 placements, the catheter was in the pleural cavity; in 7 placements, the catheter never entered the pleural cavity; and in 3 placements, cavity penetration was verified at autopsy even though the catheter was no longer in the cavity. Success was noted in 6 of 13 anterior attempts and 4 of 4 lateral attempts, for an overall success rate of 59% (10 of 17). In the remaining 6 attempted procedures, a catheter was noted in the soft tissue on imaging; however, presence or absence of pleural cavity penetration was equivocal. All placements were attempted in the combat environment; no information is available about specifically where or by whom. Conclusion: NTD via a lateral approach was more successful than that via an anterior approach, although it was used in fewer cases. This supports the revision of the Tactical Combat Casualty Care Guidelines specifying the lateral approach as an alternative to an anterior approach.

Point-of-Care Coagulation Testing for Trauma Patients in a Military Setting: A Prospective Study

Cotte J, d'Aranda E, Chauvin V, Kaiser E, Meaudre E 13(4). 59 - 62 (Journal Article)

Background and Objective: Almost 50% of military trauma patients who need transfusions develop a coagulopathy. Immediately treating this coagulopathy improves the patient's prognosis. Field military hospitals often lack laboratory devices needed to diagnose a clinically significant coagulopathy and have limited blood product resources such as plasma. Point-of-care (POC) devices for the measurement of prothrombin time (PT) are available and have been tested in a variety of situations, including hemorrhagic surgery. The authors compared a POC device, the Coaguchek XS Pro (F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., Basel, Switzerland), with laboratory measures for determining the PT in military trauma patients in a field hospital. Methods: This single-center prospective study was designed to compare POC coagulation monitoring with traditional laboratory testing. It was conducted at the French military hospital located at Kabul International Airport. All patients with trauma injuries resulting from war operations were included. A blood sample was drawn immediately on admission. PT was determined both in the laboratory and with use of the Coaguchek XS pro. Results: Forty patients with war trauma were enrolled during a 3-month period. The authors recorded 69 measurements. The two methods were correlated with a correlation coefficient of 0.78 (ρ < .001). The Bland- Altman plot showed a mean difference of 5.8% (95% confidence interval -14.9% to 26.6%). Using a PT cutoff of 60%, POC had a sensitivity of 77.1% and a specificity of 94.1%. Results from POC PT measurement were available within a mean of 25.8 minutes before laboratory measures. Conclusions: The Coaguchek XS Pro device can be used successfully in an austere environment without compromising its performance.

Cutaneous Leishmaniasis: The Efficacy of Nonantimony Treatment in the Austere Environment Using Cryotherapy, Thermotherapy, and Photodynamic Therapy as an Alternative Method of Treatment

Kunzler B 13(4). 40 - 45 (Journal Article)

The author provides a retrospective review of clinical trials evaluating cryotherapy, photodynamic therapy (PDT), and thermotherapy in the treatment of cutaneous Leishmania infestations. Current cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) treatment is based primarily on antimony compounds such as meglumine antimoniate, sodium stibogluconate, ketaconozole, amphotericin B, and other similar compounds. All have potentially severe sideeffects and relatively narrow therapeutic windows (i.e., the minimum doses that are therapeutic and do not cause harm). Investigational modalities using heat and cold therapies were shown to have similar results compared with current treatment regimens. Combination therapies have also been investigated and are the standard of treatment in the United States. Although the current therapies are effective in the treatment of the trypanosomatid protozoan Leishmania parasite, some effective alternative modalities have been shown to have fewer serious side-effects compared with current medications. Investigational studies that were reviewed showed that whether used individually or as an adjunct to traditional therapies, alternative treatment methods proved to be equally efficacious in treating CL. Some investigational therapies, such as cryotherapy as the sole modality, approached 92% cure rate. Any of the three investigated alternatives (i.e., heat, cold, or photodynamic) are techniques that could be readily used by Special Operations Forces (SOF) medics during their operations in remote and/or austere regions of the world.

Use of the LMA Supreme in the Special Operations Environment: A Retrospective Comparison of the LMA Supreme and King LT-D

Hamilton TJ, Maani CV, Redman TT 13(4). 46 - 52 (Journal Article)

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the use of the LMA Supreme® (LAM) as a combat supraglottic airway for U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF). It is imperative to continuously evaluate and compare existing management options for airway control as requirements and technologies change. Providing our Special Operators with the most advanced and reliable medical equipment is of the utmost importance, and it is our intention here to compare the LMA Supreme with the currently fielded King LT-D® (King Systems) to determine whether the LMA Supreme may be a viable alternative supraglottic airway.

Filling in the Gaps of Predeployment Fleet Surgical Team Training Using a Team-Centered Approach

Hoang TN, Kang J, LaPorta AJ, Makler VI, Chalut C 13(4). 22 - 33 (Journal Article)

Background: Teamwork and successful communication are essential parts of any medical specialty, especially in the trauma setting. U.S. Navy physicians developed a course for deploying fleet surgical teams to reinforce teamwork, communication, and baseline knowledge of trauma management. Method: The course combines 22 hours of classroom didactics along with 28 hours of hands-on simulation and cadaver-based laboratories to reinforce classroom concepts. It culminates in a 6-hour, multiwave exercise of multiple, critically injured victims of a mass casualty and uses the "Cut Suit" (Human Worn Partial Task Surgical Simulator; Strategic Operations), which enables performance of multiple realistic surgical procedures as encountered on real casualties. Participants are graded on time taken from initial patient encounter to disposition and the number of errors made. Pre- and post-training written examinations are also given. The course is graded based on participants' evaluation of the course. Results: The majority of the participants indicated that the course promoted teamwork, enhanced knowledge, and gave confidence. Only 51.72% of participants felt confident in dealing with trauma patients before the course, while 82.76% felt confident afterward (ρ = .01). Both the time spent on each patient and the number of errors made also decreased after course completion. Conclusion: The course was successful in improving teamwork, communication and base knowledge of all the team members.

The Correlation of Early Hyperglycemia With Outcomes in Adult Trauma Patients: A Systematic Review

Peffer J, McLaughlin C 13(4). 34 - 39 (Journal Article)

Background: Hyperglycemia is often treated in both acute and long-term settings and has recently garnered attention for its utility as a prognostic marker in traumatic injury. This could be of vital importance in Special Operations, as triage and disposition of trauma patients are often accomplished under less-than-ideal conditions. Blood glucose levels are easily obtained, require inexpensive instruments, but are likely not routinely taken in the field for trauma patients. Objective: The objective of this review was to systematically search available medical literature for early (within 48 hours of presentation) hyperglycemia in trauma patients and present the relevant data regarding prognosis in a qualitative fashion. Sources: A systematic review was conducted of published Englishlanguage articles using PubMed/MEDLINE in addition to searching bibliographies. Search terms included hyperglycemia, trauma, and prognosis. Study Eligibility Criteria: Eligible analytical studies had an adult population, who had experienced a traumatic injury, with blood glucose measurements within the first 48 hours of care, and had prognostic end points such as morbidity measures (intensive care unit time, infection, length of stay, etc.) and/or mortality. Study Appraisal and Synthesis Methods: Studies were appraised according to their design, size, population characteristics, definition of "hyperglycemic" and "normoglycemic," and morbidity and mortality outcomes. Results: We reviewed 104 studies. Ninety-five were identified from a PubMed/MEDLINE search, and an additional nine were from relevant citations and bibliographies. Eighty-seven studies were excluded; 17 articles met inclusion criteria and were analyzed for the review. Five were prospective in nature and 12 were retrospective reviews. Five studies analyzed patients with traumatic brain injury, and one study exclusively concerned burn patients. Sixteen of the studies found negative outcomes with early hyperglycemia. One study found no significant relationship between serum glucose measurements and mortality. Limitations: Limitations of this review included the use of one database and articles available online and in English. Conclusions and Implications of Key Findings: There is strong evidence that early hyperglycemia is correlated with a worse prognosis in trauma patients. Providers at all levels could potentially use this information to aid in the triage and disposition of traumatic injury victims.

Rice-Based Electrolyte Drinks More Effective Than Water in Replacing Sweat Losses During Hot Weather Training and Operations

Gerold KB, Greenough WB, Yasar S 13(4). 12 - 14 (Journal Article)

Heat-related injury presents significant threats to the health and operational effectiveness of Soldiers and military operations. In 2012, active component, U.S. Armed Forces experienced 365 incident cases of heat stroke and 2,257 incident cases of "other heat injury." Most of these occurred among recruit and enlisted personnel and most were under the age of 30. In conditioned military personnel, a rice-based oral rehydration solution was superior to water alone at maintaining body weight and, by inference, enabled Soldiers to better maintain their the state of hydration during prolonged exercise in high ambient temperatures. In view of the health risks associated with dehydration and their effects on training and operations, this study suggests that the consumption of beverages containing electrolytes and a rice-based carbohydrate is superior to the consumption of water alone in preventing dehydration and heat related illness.

Tactical Lighting in Special Operations Medicine: Survey of Current Preferences

Calvano CJ, Enzenauer RW, Eisnor DL, LaPorta AJ 13(4). 15 - 21 (Journal Article)

Success in Special Operations Forces medicine (SOFMED) is dependent on maximizing visual capability without compromising the provider or casualty position when under fire. There is no single ideal light source suitable for varied SOFMED environments. We present the results of an online survey of Special Operations Medical Operators in an attempt to determine strengths and weaknesses of current systems. There was no consensus ideal hue for tactical illumination. Most Operators own three or more lights, and most lights were not night vision compatible. Most importantly, nearly 25% of respondents reported that lighting issues contributed to a poor casualty outcome; conversely, a majority (50 of 74) stated their system helped prevent a poor outcome. Based on the results of this initial survey, we can affirm that the design and choice of lighting is critical to SOFMED success. We are conducting ongoing studies to further define ideal systems for tactical applications including field, aviation, and marine settings.


Sola CA, Trickett CV, Lehman KA 13(3). 105 - 108 (Journal Article)

An active duty male presents to your clinic with concerns of an increasing number of enlarging papules on his neck. How would you describe the morphology of these lesions? What questions should be included in your history? What would you include in your examination? What would you include in your differential diagnosis? What labs and/or tests would you order? This report discusses cutaneous sarcoidosis and its diagnosis and treatment.

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