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Rapid Vision Correction by Special Operations Forces

Reynolds ME 17(2). 60 - 64 (Journal Article)

Background: This report describes a rapid method of vision correction used by Special Operations Medics in multiple operational engagements. Methods: Between 2011 and 2015, Special Operations Medics used an algorithm- driven refraction technique. A standard block of instruction was provided to the medics, along with a packaged kit. The technique was used in multiple operational engagements with host nation military and civilians. Data collected for program evaluation were later analyzed to assess the utility of the technique. Results: Glasses were distributed to 230 patients with complaints of either decreased distance or near (reading). Most patients (84%) with distance complaints achieved corrected binocular vision of 20/40 or better, and 97% of patients with near-vision complaints achieved corrected near-binocular vision of 20/40 or better. There was no statistically significant difference between the percentages of patients achieving 20/40 when medics used the technique under direct supervision versus independent use. Conclusion: A basic refraction technique using a designed kit allows for meaningful improvement in distance and/or near vision at austere locations. Special Operations Medics can leverage this approach after specific training with minimal time commitment. It can serve as a rapid, effective intervention with multiple applications in diverse operational environments.

The Role I Resuscitation Team and Resuscitative Endovascular Balloon Occlusion of the Aorta

Fisher AD, Teeter WA, Cordova CB, Brenner ML, Szczepanski MP, Miles EA, Galante JM, DuBose JJ, Rasmussen TE 17(2). 65 - 73 (Journal Article)

The medical advancements made during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in an unprecedented survival rate, yet there is still a significant number of deaths that were potentially survivable. Additionally, the ability to deliver casualties to definitive surgical care within the "golden hour" is diminishing in many areas of conflict. Resuscitative endovascular balloon occlusion of the aorta (REBOA) has been implemented successfully in the hospital setting. REBOA may be a possible adjunct for the Role I and point-of-injury (POI) care to provide temporary control of noncompressible torso hemorrhage (NCTH) and junctional hemorrhage. Here the authors advocate for the development of the Role I Resuscitation Team (RT) and a training pathway to meet the challenge of the changing battlefield

The Sole Provider: Preparation for Deployment to a Medically Austere Theater

Corso P, Mandry C, Reynolds S 17(2). 74 - 81 (Journal Article)

The combat focus of the US Military over the past 15 years has primarily centered on the Iraq and Afghanistan areas of operation (AOs). Thus, much human and financial capital has been dedicated to the creation of a robust medical infrastructure to support those operations. However, Special Operation Forces (SOF) are often called upon to deploy in much more medically austere AOs. SOF medical providers operating in such environments face significant challenges due to the diversity of medical threats, extremely limited access to medical resupply, a material shortage of casualty evacuation platforms, lack of medical facilities, and limited access to higher-level care providers. This article highlights the challenges faced during a recent Special Forces deployment to such an austere environment. Many of these challenges can be mitigated with a specific approach to premission training and preparation.

Albumin for Prehospital Fluid Resuscitation of Hemorrhagic Shock in Tactical Combat Casualty Care

Studer NM, April MD, Bowling F, Danielson PD, Cap AP 17(2). 82 - 88 (Journal Article)

Optimal fluid resuscitation on the battlefield in the absence of blood products remains unclear. Contemporary Combat medics are generally limited to hydroxyethyl starch or crystalloid solutions, both of which present significant drawbacks. Obtaining US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved freeze-dried plasma (FDP) is a top casualty care research priority for the US Military. Interest in this agent reflects a desire to simultaneously expand intravascular volume and address coagulopathy. The history of FDP dates to the Second World War, when American expeditionary forces used this agent frequently. Also fielded was 25% albumin, an agent that lacks coagulation factors but offers impressive volume expansion with minimal weight to carry and requires no reconstitution in the field. The current potential value of 25% albumin is largely overlooked. Although FDP presents an attractive future option for battlefield prehospital fluid resuscitation once FDA approved, this article argues that in the interim, 25% albumin, augmented with fibrinogen concentrate and tranexamic acid to mitigate hemodilution effects on coagulation capacity, offers an effective volume resuscitation alternative that could save lives on the battlefield immediately.

Intubation of the Right Atrium During an Attempted Modified Surgical Airway in a Pig

Bowman J, Juergens A, McClure M, Spear D 17(2). 96 - 100 (Journal Article)

In modern medicine, the surgical cricothyrotomy is an airway procedure of last resort. In austere environments, however, its simplicity may make it a more feasible option than carrying a full complement of laryngoscopes. To create a Transportation Security Agency-compliant compact first-response bag, we attempted to establish a surgical cricothyrotomy in a pig, using trauma shears, basic medical scissors, a pocket bougie, and an endotracheal tube. Bougies can provide tactile feedback via the "tracheal ring sign" and "stop sign" to indicate positive tracheal placement during orotracheal intubation. We report on a previously unknown serious potential complication that questions the use of scissors to establish a surgical airway and the reliability of tactile bougie signs when translated into certain surgical airways.

QuikClot® Combat Gauze® Use by Ground Forces in Afghanistan The Prehospital Trauma Registry Experience

Schauer SG, April MD, Naylor JF, Fisher AD, Cunningham CW, Ryan KL, Thomas KC, Brillhart DB, Fernandez JD, Antonacci MA 17(2). 101 - 106 (Journal Article)

Background: QuikClot® Combat Gauze® (QCCG) was fielded in 2008 to replace previous generations of hemostatic products. To the best of our knowledge, despite nearly a decade of use, there are no published data on use among US combatant forces. We describe the use of QCCG by ground forces in Afghanistan and compare patients who received QCCG compared with the remaining population in the database who did not receive QCCG. Methods: Data were obtained from the Prehospital Trauma Registry (PHTR). Joint Trauma System personnel linked patients to the Department of Defense Trauma Registry (DODTR) for outcome data, when available, upon reaching a fixed facility. Results: Of the 705 patients within the entire PHTR, 118 (16.7%) had documented use of QCCG. Most patients (69.5%) were Afghan; all were male. Lower extremities accounted for the most common site of application (39.7%). Hemorrhage control occurred in 88.3% of encounters with hemorrhage control status documented. Patients receiving QCCG generally had higher rates of concomitant interventions. Of the 705 patients, 190 were linkable to the DODTR for outcome data; 25 of the 28 (89.3%) in the QCCG group were discharged alive compared with 153 of the 162 (94.4%) in the non-QCCG group (ρ = .300). Conclusion: QCCG appears to have common use on the battlefield as a concomitant intervention for obtaining hemorrhage control. Patients receiving QCCG had higher rates of gunshot wounds compared with the baseline population and were generally sicker. Hemorrhage control success was like that reported in other military and civilian settings.


Banting J, Meriano T 17(2). 108 - 111 (Journal Article)

Ketones and Human Performance

Scott JM, Deuster PA 17(2). 112 - 116 (Journal Article)

Everyone is seeking nutritional strategies that might benefit performance. One approach receiving much attention is ketones, or ketosis. Ketones are very simple compounds made of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen, and ketosis is a metabolic state whereby the body uses predominantly ketones. Ketosis can be achieved by fasting for longer than 72 hours or by following a very lowcarbohydrate, high-fat diet (ketogenic diet) for several days to weeks. Alternatively, ketone supplements purportedly induce ketosis rapidly and do not require strict adherence to any specific type of diet; however, much of the touted benefits are anecdotal. A potential role for ketosis as a performance enhancer was first introduced in 1983 with the idea that chronic ketosis without caloric restriction could preserve submaximal exercise capability by sparing glycogen or conserving the limited carbohydrate stores. Few human studies on the effects of a ketogenic diet on performance have yielded positive results, and most studies have yielded equivocal or null results, and a few negative results. Many questions about ketones relevant to Special Operations Forces (SOF) remain unanswered. At present, a ketogenic diet and/or a ketone supplement do not appear confer performance benefits for SOF. Instead, Operators should engage with their unit dietitian to develop individualized nutritional strategies based on unique mission requirements. The authors review the concept of a ketogenic diet, describe some potential benefits and risks of ketosis, review the performance literature and how to measure ketone status, and then summarize the landscape in 2017.


Burnett MW 17(2). 117 - 119 (Journal Article)

Stress Fractures: Etiology, Epidemiology, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention

Knapik JJ, Reynolds K, Hoedebecke KL 17(2). 120 - 130 (Journal Article)

Stress fractures are part of a continuum of changes in healthy bones in response to repeated mechanical deformation from physical activity. If the activity produces excessive repetitive stress, osteoclastic processes in the bone may proceed at a faster pace than osteoblastic processes, thus weakening the bone and augmenting susceptibility to stress fractures. Overall stress fracture incidence is about three cases per 1,000 in active duty Servicemembers, but it is much higher among Army basic trainees: 19 per 1,000 for men and 80 per 1,000 for women. Well-documented risk factors include female sex, white ethnicity, older age, taller stature, lower aerobic fitness, prior physical inactivity, greater amounts of current physical training, thinner bones, cigarette smoking, and inadequate intake of vitamin D and/or calcium. Individuals with stress fractures present with focal tenderness and local pain that is aggravated by physical activity and reduced by rest. A sudden increase in the volume of physical activity along with other risk factors is often reported. Simple clinical tests can assist in diagnosis, but more definitive imaging tests will eventually need to be conducted if a stress fracture is suspected. Plain radiographs are recommended as the initial imaging test, but magnetic resonance imaging has higher sensitivity and is more likely to detect the injury sooner. Treatment involves first determining if the stress fracture is of higher or lower risk; these are distinguished by anatomical location and whether the bone is loaded in tension (high risk) or compression (lower risk). Lowerrisk stress fractures can be initially treated by reducing loading on the injured bone through a reduction in activity or by substituting other activities. Higher-risk stress fractures should be referred to an orthopedist. Investigated prevention strategies include modifications to physical training programs, use of shock absorbing insoles, vitamin D and calcium supplementation, modifications of military equipment, and leadership education with injury surveillance.

Prolonged Field Care for the Summer 2017 Edition

Keenan S 17(2). 131 (Journal Article)

Acute Traumatic Wound Management in the Prolonged Field Care Setting

Rapp J, Plackett TP, Crane J, Lu J, Hardin D, Loos PE, Kelly R, Murray CK, Keenan S, Shackelford S 17(2). 132 - 149 (Journal Article)

Introduction to the Unconventional Medicine Series

Hetzler MR 17(2). 153 (Journal Article)

Maggot Therapy for Wound Care in Austere Environments

Sherman RA, Hetzler MR 17(2). 154 - 162 (Journal Article)

The past 25 years have seen an increase in use of maggot therapy for wound care. Maggot therapy is very effective in wound debridement; it is simple to apply and requires very little in the way of resources, costs, or skilled personnel. These characteristics make it well suited for use in austere environments. The use of medical-grade maggots makes maggot therapy nearly risk free, but medical grade maggots may not always be available, especially in the wilderness or in resource-limited communities. By understanding myiasis and fly biology, it should be possible even for the nonentomologist to obtain maggots from the wild and apply them therapeutically, with minimal risks.

Summer 2016 Journal (Vol 16 Ed 2)

Vol 16 Ed 2
Summer 2016 Journal of Special Operations Medicine
ISSN: 1553-9768

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Spring 2012 Journal (Vol 12 Ed 1) (Digital Download Only)
Vol 12 Ed 1
Spring 2012 Journal of Special Operations Medicine
ISSN: 1553-9768

Print Stock is currently depleted. This journal is available only as a PDF Download
Optimizing the Use of Limb Tourniquets in Tactical Combat Casualty Care: TCCC Guidelines Change 14-02

Shackelford S, Butler FK, Kragh JF, Stevens RA, Seery JM, Parsons DL, Montgomery HR, Kotwal RS, Mabry RL, Bailey JA 15(1). 17 - 31 (Journal Article)

Intensive Skills Week for Military Medical Students Increases Technical Proficiency, Confidence, and Skills to Minimize Negative Stress

Mueller G, Hunt B, Wall V, Rush R, Moloff A, Schoeff J, Wedmore I, Schmid J, LaPorta AJ 12(4). 45 - 53 (Journal Article)

The effects of stress induced cortisol on learning and memory is well documented in the literature.1-3 Memory and learning are enhanced at low levels while high levels are detrimental. Repetitive training in stressful situations enables management of the stress response4 as demonstrated by the high intensity training military members undergo to prepare for tactical situations. Appropriate management of one's stress response is critical in the medical field, as the negative effects of stress can potentially hinder life-saving procedures and treatments. This also applies to physicians-in-training as they learn and practice triage, emergency medicine, and surgical skills prior to graduation. Rocky Vista University's Military Medicine Honor's Track (MMHT) held a week long high-intensity emergency medicine and surgical Intensive Skills Week (ISW), facilitated by military and university physicians, to advance students' skills and maximize training using the Human Worn Partial Surgical Task Simulator (Cut Suit). The short-term goal of the ISW was to overcome negative stress responses to increase confidence, technical and non-technical knowledge, and skill in surgery and emergency medicine in an effort to improve performance as third-year medical students. The long-term goal was to enhance performance and proficiency in residency and future medical practice. The metrics for the short-term goals were the focus of this pilot study. Results show an increase in confidence and decrease in perceived stress as well as statistically significant improvements in technical and non-technical skills and surgical instrumentation knowledge throughout the week. There is a correlative 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 unfeasible.

Evaluation of NuStat®, a Novel Nonimpregnated Hemostatic Dressing, Compared With Combat Gauze™ in Severe Traumatic Porcine Hemorrhage Model

Hillis GR, Yi CJ, Amrani DL, Akers TW, Schwartz RB, Wedmore I, McManus JG 14(4). 41 - 47 (Journal Article)

Background: Uncontrolled hemorrhage remains one of the most challenging problems facing emergency medical professionals and a leading cause of traumatic death in both battlefield and civilian environments. Survival is determined by the ability to rapidly control hemorrhage. Several commercially available topical adjunct agents have been shown to be effective in controlling hemorrhage, and one, Combat Gauze™ (CG), is used regularly on the battlefield and for civilian applications. However, recent literature reviews have concluded that no ideal topical agent exists for all injuries and scenarios. The authors compared a novel nonimpregnated dressing composed of cellulose and silica, NuStat® (NS), to CG in a lethal hemorrhagic groin injury. These dressings were selected for their commercial availability and design intended for control of massive hemorrhage. Methods: A complex penetrating femoral artery groin injury was made using a 5.5mm vascular punch followed by 45 seconds of uncontrolled hemorrhage in 15 swine. The hemostatic dressings were randomized using a random sequence generator and then assigned to the animals. Three minutes of manual pressure was applied with each agent after the free bleed. Hextend™ bolus (500mL) was subsequently rapidly infused using a standard pressure bag along with the addition of maintenance fluids to maintain blood pressure. Hemodynamic parameters were recorded every 10 minutes and additionally at critical time points defined in the protocol. Primary end points included immediate hemostasis upon release of manual pressure (T0), hemostasis at 60 minutes, and rebleeding during the 60-minute observation period. Results: NS was statistically superior to CG in a 5.5mm traumatic hemorrhage model at T0 for immediate hemostasis (ρ = .0475), duration of application time (ρ = .0093), use of resuscitative fluids (ρ = .0042) and additional blood loss after application (ρ = .0385). NS and CG were statistically equivalent for hemostasis at 60 minutes, rebleeding during the study, and the additional secondary metrics, although the trend indicated that in a larger sample size, NS could prove statistical superiority in selected categories. Conclusions: In this porcine model of uncontrolled hemorrhage, NS improved immediate hemorrhage control, stability, and use of fluid in a 60-minute severe porcine hemorrhage model. In this study, NS demonstrated equivalence to CG at achieving long-term hemostasis and the prevention of rebleed after application. NS was shown to be an efficacious choice for hemorrhage control in combat and civilian emergency medical service environments.

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