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Austere Fasciotomy: Alternative Equipment for Performance in the Field

DeSoucy ES, Hewitt CW, Bolleter S 22(1). 81 - 86 (Journal Article)

Background: Acute compartment syndrome (ACS) following extremity trauma requires rapid fasciotomy to avoid significant morbidity and limb loss. Four-compartment fasciotomy of the leg is a surgical procedure typically performed in the operating room; however, casualties who cannot be rapidly transported may need fasciotomies in the prehospital setting. In the absence of traditional operating instruments (e.g., scalpel, long Metzenbaum scissors, electrocautery), alternative means of fasciotomy may be needed. We undertook a proof-of-concept study using cadaver models to determine whether leg fasciotomies could be performed with alternative devices compared with the surgical standard. Methods: Two-incision, four-compartment fasciotomies were performed on fresh, never-frozen, non-embalmed cadaver legs using a scalpel for the initial skin incision, followed by release of the fascia using one of the following instruments: 5.5-in curved Mayo scissors; Benchmade rescue hook (model BM-5BLKW); rescue hook on the Leatherman Raptor multitool (model 831741-FFP); Leatherman Z-Rex multitool rescue hook (model LM93408); or No. 10 PenBlade (model PB-M-10- CAS). The procedures were performed by a surgeon. Skin and fascia incisional lengths were recorded along with a subjective impression of the performance for each device. Post-procedural dissection was performed to identify associated injuries to the muscle, superficial peroneal nerve, and the greater saphenous vein (GSV). Results: All devices were able to adequately release the fascia in all four compartments. All rescue hooks (Benchmade, Raptor, and Z-Rex) required a "pull technique" and a skin incision of equal length to the fascia incision. The PenBlade was used in a "push technique," similar to the standard scissor fasciotomy through a smaller skin incision. There was one superficial peroneal nerve transection with the rescue hooks, but there were no GSV injuries or significant muscle damage with any instrument. Conclusion: Four-compartment fasciotomy can be performed with readily available alternative equipment such as rescue hooks and the PenBlade. Hook-type devices require longer skin incisions compared with scissors and the PenBlade. In contested environments, patients with ACS may require fasciotomy prior to evacuation to surgical teams; training combat medics in the use of these alternative instruments in the field may preserve life and limb.

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Efficacy of Vancomycin Powder in Mitigating Infection of Open Penetrating Trauma Wounds on the Battlefield: An Evidence-Based Review

TerBeek BR, Loos PE, Pekari TB, Tennent DJ 22(1). 76 - 80 (Journal Article)

Background: Open penetrating trauma wounds to the extremities remain the most common injuries encountered in combat and are frequently complicated by bacterial infections. These infections place a heavy burden on the Servicemember and the healthcare system as they often require multiple additional procedures and can frequently cause substantial debility. Previous studies have shown that vancomycin powder has demonstrated efficacy in decreasing infection risks in clean and contaminated orthopedic surgical wounds. Methods: This review evaluates the most prevalent organisms cultured post-trauma, the current Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) guidelines for antibiotic prophylaxis, and relevant research of vancomycin's prophylactic use. Results: Results from previous studies have shown a time-dependent reduction in bacterial load when vancomycin powder is introduced early post injury in traumatic orthopedic wounds. Furthermore, perioperative application affords a cost-effective method to prevent infection with minimal adverse effects. Discussion: The current TCCC guidelines advocate for the use of antibiotics at the point of injury. When vancomycin powder is used in synergy with these guidelines, it can contribute a timely and powerful antibiotic to prevent infection. Conclusion: The prophylactic use of vancomycin powder is a promising adjunctive agent to current Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG), but it cannot be conclusively determined to be effective without further research into its application in traumatic combat wounds.

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Use of Knives and Multitools to Perform a Cadaveric Limb Amputation

Baker RA, Worth K, Pourrajabi N, Martin J, Mitchell S, Baker S 22(1). 71 - 75 (Journal Article)

Background: An austere field amputation can be a life-saving procedure for an entrapped patient when standard equipment is not available or operable. The objective of this study was to use hand tools to perform cadaveric amputations in < 2 minutes. Methods: Timed guillotine amputation of the extremities on three cadavers was attempted using four available hand tools: a multitool, a rescue tool, a hunting knife, and a fixedblade knife. The primary outcome was successful amputation of the extremity in < 2 minutes. Results: Amputation success was different among the tools. The multitool amputated 78% of attempts; the hunting knife, 67%; the rescue knife, 56%; and the fixed-blade knife, 44%. The distal tibia/fibula and radius/ ulna were amputated successfully in 100% of attempts, whereas none of the tools could amputate the femur. The multitool received the best subjective ranking - 1.4 (p = .001) - by amputators, with the fixed-blade knife receiving the worst score. Conclusions: In the rare circumstance that an emergent field amputation requires a hand tool, the multitool is a capable instrument for a distal extremity amputation.

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Expeditionary Mechanical Ventilation in Conjunction With Extracorporeal Life Support During Ground Transport

Beely BM, Harea GT, Wendorff DS, Choi JH, Sieck K, Karaliou V, Cannon JW, Lantry JH, Cancio LC, Sams VG, Batchinsky AI 22(1). 64 - 69 (Journal Article)

Background: We assessed the use of an FDA-cleared transport ventilator with limited functions and settings during ground transport in a swine model of ground evacuation. We hypothesized that when used as an adjunct to extracorporeal life support (ECLS), the device would enable safe mobile ventilatory support during ground evacuation. Methods: Female Yorkshire swine (n = 11; mean, 52.4 ± 1.3 kg) were sedated and anesthetized and received mechanical ventilation (MV) with a standard intensive care unit (ICU) ventilator and were transitioned to the Simplified Automated Ventilator II (SAVe II; AutoMedx) during ground transport. MV served as an adjunct to ECLS in all animals. Ventilator performance was assessed in the uninjured state on day 1 and after bilateral pulmonary contusion on day 2. Data were collected pre- and post-transport on both days. Results: During 33 transports, the SAVe II provided similar ventilation support as the ICU ventilator. Mean total transport time was 38.8 ± 2.1 minutes. The peak inspiratory pressure (PIP) limit was the only variable to show consistent differences pre- and post-transport and between ventilators. No adverse events occurred. Conclusion: As an adjunctive supportive device during ground transport, the SAVe II performed adequately without failure or degradation in subject status. Further testing is warranted to elucidate the clinical limits of this device during standalone use.

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Feasibility of Obtaining Intraosseous and Intravenous Access Using Night Vision Goggle Focusing Adaptors

Iteen A, Koch EJ, Wojhan A, Gutierrez R, Hildreth A, Rudinsky S, Deaton TG, Zarow GJ 22(1). 56 - 63 (Journal Article)

Background: The optimal tactical lighting for performing medical procedures under low-light conditions is unclear. Methods: United States Navy medical personnel (N = 23) performed intravenous (IV) and intraosseous (IO) procedures on mannequins using a tactical headlamp, night vision goggles (NVGs), and night vision goggles with focusing adaptors (NVG+A) utilizing a randomized within-subjects design. Procedure success, time to completion, and user preferences were analyzed using analysis of variance (ANOVA) and nonparametric statistics at p < .05. Results: IV success rates were significantly greater for the headlamp (74%) than for NVG (35%; p < .03) and somewhat greater than for NVG+A (52%; p = .18). IO success rates were high under each lighting condition (96% to 100%). Time to completion was significantly faster using headlamp (IV, 106 ± 28 s; IO, 47 ± 11 s) than NVG (IV, 168 ± 80 s; IO, 56 ± 17 s) or NVG-A (IV, 157 ± 52 s; IO, 59 ± 27 s; each p < .01). Posttesting confidence on a 1-to-5 scale was somewhat higher for NVG+A (IV, 2.9 ± 0.2; IO, 4.2 ± 0.2) than for NVG (IV, 2.6 ± 0.2; IO, 4.0 ± 0.2). Participants cited concerns with NVG+A depth perception and with adjusting the adaptors, and that the adaptors were not integrated into the NVG. Conclusion: While this mannequin study was limited by laboratory conditions and by the lack of practice opportunities, we found some small advantages of focusing adaptors over NVG alone but not over headlamp for IV and IO access in low-light conditions.

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The Myths of Uncontrolled Emergence Reactions and Consideration to Stop Mandatory, Protocolled Midazolam Coadministration With Ketamine

Hiller HM, Drew B, Fisher AD, Cuthrell M, Spradling JC 22(1). 49 - 54 (Journal Article)

Ketamine continues to demonstrate its utility and safety in the austere and prehospital environment, but myths persist regarding the frequency of behavioral disturbances and unpleasant reactions. These myths have led to protocolled midazolam co-administration. Properties of midazolam and other benzodiazepines have the potential to cause significant morbidity and potential mortality. Because of this risk, benzodiazepines should only be administered when the treating provider determines that the patient's symptoms warrant it. We also present evidence that agitation and altered mental status (AMS) encountered with ketamine occurs during titration of lower pain control regimens and is much less likely to occur with higher doses. As such, in most prehospital situations, the treatment for this "incomplete dissociation" is more ketamine, not the addition of a potentially dangerous benzodiazepine.

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Prolonged Field Care in Support of Operation Inherent Resolve, 2016

Blaine C, Abbott M, Jacobson E 18(3). 120 - 123 (Journal Article)

The authors present their experience in emergency and longterm medical care by Special Operations Forces (SOF) medical providers in an austere environment. In this case, a Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha (SFOD-A) was deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, partnered with indigenous combat forces.

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Draw-over Anesthesia Bringing the "Dark Art" Back Into the Light

Graves MW, Billings S 18(3). 125 - 133 (Journal Article)

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Knowledge Versus Suspicion

Turconi M, Dare C, Hampton K 18(3). 124 (Journal Article)

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Damage Control Resuscitation in Prolonged Field CareDamage Control Resuscitation in Prolonged Field Care

Fisher AD, Washbum G, Powell D, Callaway DW, Miles EA, Brown J, Dituro P, Baker JB, Christensen JB, Cunningham CW, Gurney JM, Lopata J, Loos PE, Maitha J, Riesberg JC, Stockinger Z, Strandenes G, Spinella PC, Cap AP, Keenan S, Shackelford SA 18(3). 109 - 119 (Journal Article)

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How the International Special Training Centre Is Training World-Class Medics: An Outline of the NATO Special Operations Combat Medic Course

Christensen JB 18(3). 103 - 108 (Journal Article)

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Special Operations Combat Medic (NSOCM) course is specifically designed to train 24 highly selected Special Operations Forces (SOF) members to treat trauma and nontrauma patients who have life-threatening diseases and/or injuries. The NSOCM course is held at the International Special Training Centre (ISTC) in Pfullendorf, Germany, and exemplifies ISTC's mission to build interoperability and strengthening alliances between multinational partners. The 24-week NSOCM course is taught by subject matter experts and SOF members from around the globe. Building interoperability and capacity with common NATO standards is crucial to medical support of all future SOF missions where military units and other small elements will be vitally dependent on each other for combined missions at the regional, national, or NATO level. A better understanding and knowledge of the current SOF medic role and the capabilities they need to bring to the battlefield will help advance their scope from the "classic" trauma scenarios to the more advanced clinical medicine and prolonged field care situations. The NSOCM must become a critical-thinker and be able to recognize and treat these health risks and conditions in remote, austere environments, finding the right solution with a limited arsenal at their disposal. The ISTC-NSOCM course is designed to help bridge this gap and raise situational awareness for the NATO on-the-ground medical professionals to ensure "the more they know the more apt they are to save a life." In essence, it is ISTC's goal to meet these challenges by training NSOCMs to meet these multidimensional demands. This article outlines ISTC's development and design of the NSOCM course and new adaptations as we move forward into our third year of training world-class medics.

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Osteoarthritis: Pathophysiology, Prevalence, Risk Factors, and Exercise for Reducing Pain and Disability

Knapik JJ, Pope R, Orr R, Schram B 18(3). 94 - 102 (Journal Article)

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a disorder involving deterioration of articular cartilage and underlying bone and is associated with symptoms of pain and disability. The incidence of OA in the military increased over the period 2000 to 2012 and was the first or second leading cause of medical separations in this period. Risk factors for OA include older age, black race, genetics, higher body mass index, prior knee injury, and excessive joint loading. Animal studies indicate that moderate exercise can assist in maintaining normal cartilage, and individuals performing moderate levels of exercise show little evidence of OA. There is considerable evidence that among individuals who develop OA, moderate and regular exercise can reduce pain and disability. There is no firm evidence that any particular mode of exercise (e.g., aerobic training, resistance exercise) is more effective than another for reducing OA-related pain and disability, but limited research suggests that exercise should be lifelong and conducted at least three times per week for optimal effects.

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Norovirus

Burnett MW 18(3). 92 - 93 (Journal Article)

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Cognitive Agility as a Factor in Human Performance Optimization

Ross J, Miller L, Deuster PA 18(3). 86 - 91 (Journal Article)

Cognitive agility reflects the capacity of an individual to easily move back and forth between openness and focus. The concept is being translated into a tool to help train leaders to perform well in the "dynamic decision-making context." Cognitive agility training (CAT) has the potential to increase emotional intelligence by improving an individual's ability to toggle between highly focused states to levels of broad, outward awareness, which should enable dynamic decision-making and enhance personal communication skills. Special Operations Forces (SOF) Operators must work in rapidly evolving, complex environments embedded with multiple high-risk factors. Generally, success in these operational environments requires the ability to maintain highly focused states. However, SOF Operators must also be able to transition rapidly back to their roles within their families, where a more outwardly aware state is needed to allow flexibility in emotional responses. CAT addresses these seemingly conflicting requirements. Successful CAT must reflect the methodologies and culture already familiar within the SOF community (i.e., "live" scenario-based activities) to replicate challenges they may encounter when operationally deployed and when at home. This article provides an overview of cognitive agility, the potential benefits, applications that could be used for training SOF Operators to improve their cognitive agility to optimize performance, and sample training scenarios. The issue of what metrics to use is also discussed.

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The Combat Application Tourniquet Versus the Tactical Mechanical Tourniquet

Beaven A, Ballard M, Sellon E, Briard R, Parker PJ 18(3). 75 - 78 (Journal Article)

Background: Exsanguination from limb injury is an important battlefield consideration that is mitigated with the use of emergency tourniquets. The Combat Application Tourniquet (C-A-T®) is the current British military standard tourniquet. Methods: We tested the self-application of a newer tourniquet system, the Tactical Mechanical Tourniquet (TMT), against self-application of the C-A-T. A total of 24 healthy British military volunteers self-applied the C-A-T and the TMT to their mid thigh in a randomized, sequential manner. Popliteal artery flow was monitored with a portable ultrasound machine, and time until arterial occlusion was measured. Pain scores were also recorded. Results The volunteers allowed testing on their lower limbs (n = 48 legs). The C-A-T was applied successfully to 22 volunteers (92%), and the TMT was successfully applied to 17 (71%). Median time to reach complete arterial occlusion was 37.5 (interquartile range [IQR], 27-52) seconds with the C-A-T, and 35 (IQR, 29-42) seconds with the TMT. The 2.5-second difference in median times was not significant (ρ = .589). The 1-in-10 difference in median pain score was also not significant (ρ = .656). The success or failure of self-application between the two tourniquet models as assessed by contingency table was not significant (p= .137). Conclusion: The TMT is effective when self-applied at the mid thigh. It does not offer an efficacy advantage over the C-A-T.

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Does Pain Have a Role When It Comes to Tourniquet Training?

Alterie J, Dennis AJ, Baig A, Impens A, Ivkovic K, Joseph KT, Messer TA, Poulakidas S, Starr FL, Wiley DE, Bokhari F, Nagy KK 18(3). 71 - 74 (Journal Article)

Background: One of the greatest conundrums with tourniquet (TQ) education is the use of an appropriate surrogate of hemorrhage in the training setting to determine whether a TQ has been successfully used. At our facility, we currently use loss of audible Doppler signal or loss of palpable pulse to represent adequate occlusion of vasculature and thus successful TQ application. We set out to determine whether pain can be used to indicate successful TQ application in the training setting. Methods: Three tourniquet systems (a pneumatic tourniquet, Combat Application Tourniquet® [C-A-T], and Stretch Wrap and Tuck Tourniquet™ [SWAT-T]) were used to occlude the arterial vasculature of the left upper arm (LUA), right upper arm (RUA), left forearm (LFA), right forearm (RFA), right thigh (RTH), and right calf (RCA) of 41 volunteers. A 4MHz, handheld Doppler ultrasound was used to confirm loss of Doppler signal (LOS) at the radial or posterior tibial artery to denote successful TQ application. Once successful placement of the TQ was noted, subjects rated their pain from 0 to 10 on the visual analog scale. In addition, the circumference of each limb, the pressure with the pneumatic TQ, number of twists with the C-A-T, and length of TQ used for the SWAT-T to obtain LOS was recorded. Results: All 41 subjects had measurements at all anatomic sites with the pneumatic TQ, except one participant who was unable to complete the LUA. In total, pain was rated as 1 or less by 61% of subjects for LUA, 50% for LFA, 57.5% for RUA, 52.5% RFA, 15% for RTH, and 25% for RCA. Pain was rated 3 or 4 by 45% of subjects for RTH. For the C-A-T, data were collected from 40 participants. In total, pain was rated as 1 or less by 57.5% for the LUA, 70% for the LFA, 62.5% for the RUA, 75% for the RFA, 15% for the RTH, and 40% for the RCA. Pain was rated 3 or 4 by 42.5%. The SWAT-T group consisted of 37 participants for all anatomic locations. In total, pain was rated as 1 or less by 27% for LUA, 40.5% for the LFA, 27.0% for the RUA, 43.2 for the RFA, 18.9% for the RTH, and 16.2% for the RCA. Pain was rated 5 by 21.6% for RTH application, and 3 or 4 by 35%. Conclusion: The unexpected low pain values recorded when loss of signal was reached make the use of pain too sensitive as an indicator to confirm adequate occlusion of vasculature and, thus, successful TQ application.

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Chemical Contamination Transfer in the Management of War Casualties

Collectif MCV T 18(3). 67 - 70 (Journal Article)

The use of chemical weapons agents (CWAs) was suspected in recent conflicts, during international conflicts, terrorist attacks, or civil wars. Little is known about the prevention needed for caregivers exposed to the risk of contamination transfer. We present a case of chemical contamination of health servicemembers during the management of casualties.

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Facial Trauma Care in the Austere Environment

Farber SJ, Kantar RS, Rodriguez ED 18(3). 62 - 66 (Journal Article)

As the United States continues to increase its use of Special Operations Forces worldwide, treatment of craniomaxillofacial (CMF) trauma must be adapted to meet the needs of the warfighter. The remoteness of Special Operations can result in potentially longer times until definitive treatment may be reached. A significant portion of Servicemembers incur injury to the CMF region (42%). Severe CMF trauma can result in substantial hemorrhage and airway compromise. These can be immediately life threatening and must be addressed expeditiously. Numerous devices and techniques for airway management have been made available to the forward provider. A thorough review of nonsurgical and surgical airway management of the patient with facial injury for the forward provider and providers at receiving facilities is provided in this article. Techniques to address flail segments of the facial skeleton are critical in minimizing airway compromise in these patients. There are many methods to control hemorrhage from the head and neck region. Hemorrhage control is critical to ensure survival in the austere environment and allow for transport to a definitive care facility. Associated injuries to the cervical spine, globe, skull base, carotid artery, and brain must be carefully evaluated and addressed in these patients. Management of vision- threatening orbital compartment syndrome is critical in patients with CMF injuries. Because the head and neck region remains relatively vulnerable in the warfighter, combat CMF trauma will continue to occur. Forward providers will benefit from a review of the acute treatment of CMF traumatic injury. Properly triaging and treating facial injuries is necessary to afford the best chance of survival for patients with a devastating combat CMF injury.

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Implementation and Evaluation of a First-Responder Bleeding-Control Training Program in a Rural Police Department

Reed JR, Carman MJ, Titch FJ, Kotwal RS 18(3). 57 - 61 (Journal Article)

Background: In the prehospital environment, nonmedical first responders are often the first to arrive on the scene of a traumatic event and must be prepared to provide initial care at the point of injury. In civilian communities, these nonmedical first responders often include law enforcement officers. Hemorrhage is a major cause of death in trauma, and many of these deaths occur in the prehospital environment; therefore, prehospital training efforts should be directed accordingly toward bleeding control. Methods: A bleeding control training program was implemented and evaluated in a rural police department in Pinehurst, North Carolina, from February to April 2017. A repeated measures observational study was conducted to evaluate the training program. Measured were self-efficacy (pre- and post-test), knowledge (pretest, post-test 1 [immediate], post-test 2 [at 4 weeks]), and limb-tourniquet application time (classroom, simulation exercise). Results: The study population was composed of 28 police officers (92.9% male) whose median age was 37 (interquartile range, 22-55) years. Mean self-efficacy scores, equating to user confidence and the decision to intervene, increased from pre- to post-training (34.54 [standard deviation (SD) 4.16] versus 35.62 [SD 4.17]; p = .042). In addition, mean knowledge test scores increased from pre- to immediately post-training (75.00 [SD 16.94] versus 85.83 [SD 11.00]; p = .006), as well as from preto 4 weeks post-training (75.00 [SD 16.94] versus 84.17 [SD 11.77]; p = .018). Lower limb-tourniquet application times were more rapid in the classroom than during the simulation exercise (23.06 seconds [SD 7.68] versus 31.91 seconds [SD 9.81]; p = .005). Conclusion: First-responder bleeding-control programs should be initiated and integrated at the local level throughout the Nation. Implementation and sustainment of such programs in police departments can save lives and enhance existing law enforcement efforts to protect and serve communities.

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A Pilot Study of Four Intraosseous Blood Transfusion Strategies

Auten JD, Mclean JB, Kemp JD, Roszko PJ, Fortner GA, Krepela AL, Walchak AC, Walker CM, Deaton TG, Fishback JE 18(3). 50 - 56 (Journal Article)

Background: Intraosseous (IO) access is used by military first responders administering fluids, blood, and medications. Current IO transfusion strategies include gravity, pressure bags, rapid transfusion devices, and manual push-pull through a three-way stopcock. In a swine model of hemorrhagic shock, we compared flow rates among four different IO blood transfusion strategies. Methods: Nine Yorkshire swine were placed under general anesthesia. We removed 20 to 25mL/kg of each animal's estimated blood volume using flow of gravity. IO access was obtained in the proximal humerus. We then autologously infused 10 to 15mL/kg of the animal's estimated blood volume through one of four randomly assigned treatment arms. Results: The average weight of the swine was 77.3kg (interquartile range, 72.7kg-88.8kg). Infusion rates were as follows: gravity, 5mL/min; Belmont rapid infuser, 31mL/min; single-site pressure bag, 78mL/min; double-site pressure bag, 103mL/min; and push-pull technique, 109mL/min. No pulmonary arterial fat emboli were noted. Conclusion: The optimal IO transfusion strategy for injured Servicemembers appears to be single-site transfusion with a 10mL to 20mL flush of normal saline, followed immediately by transfusion under a pressure bag. Further study, powered to detect differences in flow rate and clinical complications. is required.

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