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Unwrapping a First Aid Tourniquet From Its Plastic Wrapper With and Without Gloves Worn: A Preliminary Study

Kragh JF, Aden JK, Lambert CD, Moore VK, Dubick MA 17(3). 25 - 34 (Journal Article)

Background: The purpose of this study was to gather data about unwrapping a packaged limb tourniquet from its plastic wrapper while wearing different types of gloves. Because already unwrapped tourniquets require no time to unwrap, unwrapping data may provide insights into the issue of having tourniquets unwrapped when stowed in a first aid kit of a Serviceperson at war. Materials and Methods: In a laboratory setting, 36 tests of nine glove groups were performed in which four people, gloved and ungloved, unwrapped tourniquets. Other tourniquets were environmentally exposed for 3 months. Results: All the users successfully unwrapped each tourniquet. Mean times to unwrap by glove group were not significantly different (ρ = .0961). When mean values of eight experimental groups were compared with that of one control group (i.e., bare hands), results showed no significant difference (ρ >.07). Mean time was least for bare hands (12 seconds) and most for cold gloves layered under mittens (22 seconds). Among the 36 pairwise comparisons of difference between glove group means, after adjustment for multiple comparisons, no comparison was noted to be statistically significant (ρ > .052, all 36 pairs). Glove thickness ranged from 0 mm for bare hands to 2.5 mm for cold gloves layered under mittens. By glove group, the thickness-time association was moderate, as tested by linear regression (R2 = 0.6096). The tourniquets exposed to the environment had evidence of rapid photodegradation due to direct exposure to sunlight. Such exposure also destroyed the wrappers. Conclusion: In a preliminary study, different gloves performed similarly when wearers unwrapped a tourniquet from its wrapper. The tourniquet wrappers gave no visible protection from sunlight, and environmental exposure destroyed the wrappers.

Combat Trousers as Effective Improvised Pelvic Binders A Comparative Cadaveric Study

Loftus A, Morris R, Friedmann Y, Pallister I, Parker P 17(3). 35 - 39 (Journal Article)

Background: Improvised explosive devices and landmines can cause pelvic fractures, which, in turn, can produce catastrophic hemorrhage. This cadaveric study compared the intrapelvic pressure changes that occurred with the application of an improvised pelvic binder adapted from the combat trousers worn by British military personnel with the commercially available trauma pelvic orthotic device (TPOD). Methods: Six unembalmed cadavers (three male, three female) were used to simulate an unstable pelvic fracture with complete disruption of the posterior arch (AO/OTA 61-C1) by dividing the pelvic ring anteriorly and posteriorly. A 3-4cm manometric balloon filled with water was placed in the retropubic space and connected to a 50mL syringe and water manometer via a three-way tap. A baseline pressure of 8cm H2O (average central venous pressure) was set. The combat trouser binder (CTB) and TPOD were applied to each cadaver in a random sequence and the steady intrapelvic pressure changes were recorded. Statistical analysis was performed using the Wilcoxon rank-sum test and a paired t test depending on the normality of the data to determine impact on the intrapelvic pressure of each intervention compared with baseline. Results: The median steady intrapelvic pressure achieved after application of the CTB was 16cm H2O and after application of the TPOD binder was 18cm H2O, both of which were significantly greater than the baseline pressure (ρ < .01 and .036, respectively) but not significantly different from each other (ρ >.05). Conclusion: Pelvic injuries are increasingly common in modern theaters of war. The CTB is a novel, rapidly deployable, yet effective, method of pelvic binding adapted from the clothes the casualty is already wearing. This technique may be used in austere environments to tamponade and control intrapelvic hemorrhage.

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.

Exertional Heat Illness Resulting in Acute Liver Failure and Liver Transplantation

Boni B, Amann C 17(3). 15 - 17 (Case Reports)

Heat illness remains a large medical burden for militaries around the world. Mitigating the incidence as well as the complications of heat illness must remain on the forefront of operational planning when operating in hot environments. We report the case of a 27-year-old male U.S. Marine who sustained a heat-related illness resulting in fulminant liver failure and permanent disability. The patient was transferred from the field to a civilian hospital. On hospital day 5, liver failure was identified. The patient was transferred to a transplant center, where he successfully received a liver transplant.

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)

Manikin Human-Patient Simulator Training

Horn GT, Bowling F, Lowe DE, Parimore JG, Stagliano DR, Studer NM. 17(2). 89 - 95. (Journal Article)

Background: Human-patient simulators (HPSs) may help enhance medical education. Manikin HPS devices respond to common field medical interventions, such as cricothyroidotomy, and have realistic feedback features, such as respirations and pulses. This study surveys Special Operations Medics for evaluations of HPS features. Methods: Of 518 subjects, 376 completed testing and surveys with valid responses. A total of 102 variables were divided into three categories-general characteristics, procedures, and injuries-and assessed on a fivepoint Likert scale. The Student t test was used to analyze data together and as separate groups against each other and against an aggregated mean. Results: Features that received high scores (i.e., higher than 4.5/5) corresponded closely with pillars of the Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) curriculum, basic life support, and realism. Discussion: US Army Special Operations Command and US Special Operations Command Medics have overall high confidence in manikin HPS devices and specifically in those that align with TCCC training and lifesaving procedures. The skills most valued coincide with difficult-to-practice measures, such as cricothyroidotomy and wound packing. Features such as prerecorded sounds, sex, automated movements, skin color, defibrillation, bowel sounds, and electrocardiogram are rated lower. These evaluations may guide future development or procurement of manikin HPS devices.

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)

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.

Review of 54 Cases of Prolonged Field Care

DeSoucy E, Shackelford S, DuBose JJ, Zweben S, Rush SC, Kotwal RS, Montgomery HR, Keenan S 17(1). 121 - 129 (Journal Article)

Background: Prolonged field care (PFC) is field medical care applied beyond doctrinal planning time-lines. As current and future medical operations must include deliberate and contingency planning for such events, data are lacking to support efforts. A case review was conducted to define the epidemiology, environment, and operational factors that affect PFC outcomes. Methods: A survey distributed to US military medical providers solicited details of PFC encounters lasting more than 4 hours and included patient demographics, environmental descriptors, provider training, modes of transportation, injuries, mechanism of injury, vital signs, treatments, equipment and resources used, duration of PFC, and morbidity and mortality status on delivery to the next level of care. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze survey responses. Results: Surveys from 54 patients treated during 41 missions were analyzed. The PFC provider was on scene at time of injury or illness for 40.7% (22/54) of cases. The environment was described as remote or austere for 96.3% (52/54) of cases. Enemy activity or weather also contributed to need for PFC in 37.0% (20/54) of cases. Care was provided primarily outdoors (37.0%; 20/54) and in hardened nonmedical structures (37.0%; 20/54) with 42.6% (23/54) of cases managed in two or more locations or transport platforms. Teleconsultation was obtained in 14.8% (8/54) of cases. The prehospital time of care ranged from 4 to 120 hours (median 10 hours), and five (9.3%) patients died prior to transport to next level of care. Conclusion: PFC in the prehospital setting is a vital area of military medicine about which data are sparse. This review was a novel initial analysis of recent US military PFC experiences, with descriptive findings that should prove helpful for future efforts to include defining unique skillsets and capabilities needed to effectively respond to a variety of PFC contingencies.

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