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Ether Anesthesia in the Austere Environment: An Exposure and Education

Morgans LB, Graham N 18(2). 142 - 146 (Journal Article)

Medical services in the austere and limited environment often require therapeutics and practices uncommon in modern times due to a lack of availability, affordability, or expertise in remote areas. In this setting, diethyl ether, or simply ether anesthesia, still serves a role today as an effective inhalation agent. An understanding of ether as an anesthetic not only illustrates the evolution in surgical anesthesia but also demonstrates ether's surviving function and durable use as a practical agent in developing nations. Although uncommon, it is not unseen, so a working knowledge should be understood if observation and advocacy for patients receiving this method of anesthesia are experienced.

Nursing Interventions in Prolonged Field Care

Ostberg D, Loos PE, Mann-Salinas EA, Creson C, Powell D, Riesberg JC, Keenan S, Shackelford S 18(2). 123 - 132 (Journal Article)


Burnett MW 18(2). 115 - 116 (Journal Article)

Picture This: Management of Canine Pyotraumatic Dermatitis (a.k.a., Hot Spot)

Palmer LE 18(2). 105 - 109 (Journal Article)

Pyotraumatic dermatitis (a.k.a., hot spot) is a rapidly developing, superficial, moist, exudative dermatitis commonly induced by self-inflicted trauma. Although not acutely life threatening, these lesions are extremely pruritic and distracting and significantly interfere with the canine's operational effectiveness and ability to stay on task. The review discusses a case, including clinical presentation, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis.

Methods for Early Control of Abdominal Hemorrhage: An Assessment of Potential Benefit

Cantle PM, Hurley MJ, Swartz MD, Holcomb JB 18(2). 98 - 104 (Journal Article)

Background: Noncompressible truncal hemorrhage (NCTH) after injury is associated with a mortality increase that is unchanged during the past 20 years. Current treatment consists of rapid transport and emergent intervention. Three early hemorrhage control interventions that may improve survival are placement of a resuscitative endovascular balloon occlusion of the aorta (REBOA), injection of intracavitary self-expanding foam, and application of the Abdominal Aortic Junctional Tourniquet (AAJT™). The goal of this work was to ascertain whether patients with uncontrolled abdominal or pelvic hemorrhage might benefit by the early or prehospital use of one of these interventions. Methods: This was a single-center retrospective study of patients who received a trauma laparotomy from 2013 to 2015. Operative reports were reviewed. The probable benefit of each hemorrhage control method was evaluated for each patient based on the location(s) of injury and the severity of their physiologic derangement. The potential scope of applicability of each control method was then directly compared. Results: During the study period, 9,608 patients were admitted; 402 patients required an emergent trauma laparotomy. REBOA was potentially beneficial for hemorrhage control in 384 (96%) of patients, foam in 351 (87%), and AAJT in 35 (9%). There was no statistically significant difference in the potential scope of applicability between REBOA and foam (ρ = .022). There was a significant difference between REBOA and AAJT (ρ < .001) and foam and AAJT™ (ρ < .001). The external surface location of signs of injury did not correlate with the internal injury location identified during laparotomy. Conclusion: Early use of REBOA and foam potentially benefits the largest number of patients with abdominal or pelvic bleeding and may have widespread applicability for patients in the preoperative, and potentially the prehospital, setting. AAJT may be useful with specific types of injury. The site of bleeding must be considered before the use of any of these tools.

Prehospital Administration of Antibiotic Prophylaxis for Open Combat Wounds in Afghanistan: 2013-2014

Schauer SG, Fisher AD, April MD, Stolper KA, Cunningham CW, Carter R, Fernandez JD, Pfaff JA 18(2). 53 - 56 (Journal Article)

Background: Military operations place injured Servicemembers at high risk for open wounds. Austere environments and initial wound contamination increase the risk for infection. Wound infections continue to cause significant morbidity among injured Servicemembers. Limited evidence suggests that early antibiotic therapy for open wounds reduces infection rates. Methods: We obtained data from the Prehospital Trauma Registry (PHTR) from January 2013 through September 2014. This database includes data from Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) cards, Department of Defense 1380 forms, and after-action reports to provide near-real-time feedback to units on prehospital medical care. We evaluated whether patients with open wounds received antibiotics in accordance with TCCC guidelines. Low adherence was defined at less than 80%. Results: In this data set, overall, prefixed facility providers administered antibiotics to 54.0% of patients with an open combat wound. Of the antibiotics given, 11.1% were within TCCC guidelines. The relatively low administration and adherence rates persisted across subgroup analyses. Conclusion: Overall, relatively few patients with open combat wounds receive antibiotic administration as recommended by TCCC guidelines. In the group that received antibiotics, few received the specific antibiotics recommended by TCCC guidelines. The development of strategies to improve adherence to these TCCC recommendations is a research priority.

Are the King LTS Laryngeal Tube and the Ambu AuraOnce Laryngeal Mask Useful Airway Adjuncts for Military Medics?

Regner D, Frykholm P 18(2). 90 - 96 (Journal Article)

Background: Airway management is a critical skill that may be essential in the battlefield. The aim of this study was to determine if combat life savers and medics with no or limited clinical experience could provide airway control using the disposable laryngeal suction tube (LTS-D) and the Ambu® AuraOnce ™ disposable laryngeal mask (LMA). Methods: Eight military medics with limited clinical experience and no airway management experience secured the airway on 19 intrahospital anesthetized patients using the LTS-D and the LMA. Each patient was treated with both airway adjuncts in a randomized order. Each medic was studied on at least two and not more than three patients. Success of insertion, number of attempts, and time to correct placement with verified ventilation were recorded. Results: When using the LTS-D, the first-attempt success rate for the medics with the first patient was 50% (four of eight) and 75% (six of eight) on the second attempt. With the second patient, the first-attempt success rate was 87.5% (seven of eight), and on the third patient, it was 100% (three of three). For all patients, the accumulated first-attempt success rate was 73.7% (14 of 19) and 84.2% (16 or 19) for second attempts with the LTS-D. The success rate on first attempt with the LMA was 100% (19 of 19) on the first patient. On the second intervention with the LMA, there was a significant decrease in mean time to verified ventilation, from 56.4 seconds to 27.7 seconds (ρ = .043), and time to verified ventilation with no leakage, from 61.3 seconds to 32.3 seconds (ρ = .029). Insertion attempts for three LTS-Ds and one LMA failed. Conclusion: This study suggests that for the safe use of the laryngeal tube suction by inexperienced airway providers, a clinical training program is required. The LMA proved superior to the LTS-D with a 100% success rate at the first attempt, which suggests that minimal training is needed before clinical use. We therefore recommend the LMA as the primary airway adjunct for military medics, despite a hypothetically inferior protection from aspiration.

The Role of Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Optimizing Injury Management in Air Force Pararescuemen, Combat Rescue Officers, and Survival Specialists

Rush SC, Foresto C, Hewitt CW, Grossman MG, Petersen CD, Gallo I, Staak BP, Rush JT 18(2). 86 - 89 (Journal Article)

Operators perform physically demanding jobs associated with a variety of overuse and acute musculoskeletal injuries. The current management of musculoskeletal complaints in the Air Force includes plane radiographs and 6 weeks of physical therapy (PT) before consideration of orthopedic consultation and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); however, MRI shows a clear advantage compared with plane radiographs. We conducted a performance improvement project and conclude that (1) MRI allowed for definitive diagnosis as well as definitive triage for care in a timely manner, (2) guidelines for ordering lumbosacral MRIs should be followed and not ordered for pain that is not progressive and severe or not associated with a neurological finding, and (3) because of the risk of X-ray exposure in patients in their 20 and 30s, X-rays should be avoided in this setting unless definitely indicated.

Junctional Tourniquet Use During Combat Operations in Afghanistan: The Prehospital Trauma Registry Experience

Schauer SG, April MD, Fisher AD, Cunningham CW, Gurney J 18(2). 71 - 74 (Journal Article)

Background: Hemorrhage is the leading cause of potentially preventable death on the battlefield. Although the resurgence of limb tourniquets revolutionized hemorrhage control in combat casualties in the recent conflicts, the mortality rate for patients with junctional hemorrhage is still high. Junctional tourniquets (JTQs) offer a mechanism to address the high mortality rate. The success of these devices in the combat setting is unclear given a dearth of existing data. Methods: From the Prehospital Trauma Registry (PHTR) and the Department of Defense Trauma Registry, we extracted cases of JTQ use in Afghanistan. Results: We identified 13 uses of a JTQ. We excluded one case in which an improvised pelvic binder was used. Of the remaining 12 cases of JTQ use, seven had documented success of hemorrhage control, three failed to control hemorrhage, and two were missing documentation regarding success or failure. Conclusion: We report 12 cases of prehospital use of JTQ in Afghanistan. The findings from this case series suggest these devices may have some utility in achieving hemorrhage control strictly at junctional sites (e.g., inguinal creases). However, they also highlight device limitations. This analysis demonstrates the need for continued improvements in technologies for junctional hemorrhage control, prehospital documentation, data fidelity and collection, as well as training and sustainment of the training for utilization of prehospital hemorrhage control techniques.

Optimizing Tactical Medical Performance: The Effect of Light Hue on Vision Testing

Van Buren JP, Wake J, McLaughlin J, LaPorta AJ, Enzenauer RW, Calvano CJ 18(2). 75 - 78 (Journal Article)

Background: Red and blue are the historical tactical lighting hues of choice to ensure light discipline and to preserve dark adaptation. As yet, no scientifically ideal hue for use in Special Operations medicine has been identified. We propose red/green polychromatic light as a superior choice that preserves visual function for tactical medical tasks in austere settings. Methods: Thirty participants were enrolled in this institutional review board-approved study. Participants completed four vision tasks in low-light settings under various lighting conditions. The Pelli-Robson Near Contrast Sensitivity test (PR), tumbling E visual acuity test, Farnsworth D-15 color-vision test (FD15), and pseudoisochromatic plate (PiP) testing was performed under white, green, or red light illumination and also red/green and red/green/yellow lights. PR and tumbling E tests were performed using blue and blue/red lights. Results: The test results for each light were compared against a white-light standard. Contrast sensitivity as measured by PR testing showed no statistical difference when white light was used compared with red/green or red/green/yellow light, and the differences between red, green, blue, and blue/red all were statistically different from when white light was used. When measuring visual acuity, blue light was the only color for which there was a statistically significant decrease in visual acuity in comparison with white. There was no reduction in visual acuity with any other lights compared with white. Performance on FD15 testing with all single-hue and multihue lights was significantly worse than with white light for measuring color-vision perception. Color discrimination as measured by PiP testing showed red and green light was significantly worse than with white light, whereas test results when green/red and green/red/yellow lights were used were not statistically different from white. Conclusion: Red/Green/yellow and red/green were superior light sources and performance results only were worse than white light on FD15 testing.

Special Operations Force Risk Reduction: Integration of Expeditionary Surgical and Resuscitation Teams

Satterly S, McGrane O, Frawley T, Bynum W, Martin J, Clegg C, Pearsall N, Reilly S, Verwiebe E, Eckert M 18(2). 49 - 52 (Journal Article)

Hemorrhage in the presurgical setting has been the most significant cause of death on the battlefield. Damage control surgery (DCS) near the point of injury (POI) is not a new concept, but having conventional medical teams supporting Special Operations Forces (SOF) beyond robust military medical infrastructure is unique for the US military. The Expeditionary Resuscitative Surgical Team (ERST) was formed by the US Army Medical Command as a pilot team to fulfill a request for forces to provide DCS and personnel recovery near POI.

Evaluation of the US Army Special Forces Tactical Human Optimization, Rapid Rehabilitation, and Reconditioning Program

Grier T, Anderson MK, Depenbrock P, Eiserman R, Nindl BC, Jones BH 18(2). 42 - 48 (Journal Article)

Background: We sought to assess the rehabilitation process, training, performance, and injury rates among those participating and not participating in the Tactical Human Optimization, Rapid Rehabilitation, and Reconditioning (THOR3) program and determine injury risk factors. Methods: A survey inquiring about personal characteristics, injuries, physical performance, and THOR3 participation during the previous 12 months was administered to Army Special Operations Forces (SOF) Soldiers. Based on responses to physical training, Soldiers were categorized into three groups: a traditional physical training (TPT) group, a cross-training (CT) group, and a THOR3 group. To identify potential injury risk factors, risk ratios and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) were calculated. Backward- stepping multivariable logistic regression models were used to assess key factors associated with injury risk. Results: The survey was completed by 328 male Soldiers. Most of the Soldiers (62%) who scheduled an appointment with the physical therapist were seen within 1 day. Self-reported injury rates for the TPT, CT, and THOR3 groups were 70%, 52%, and 48%, respectively. When controlling for personal characteristics, unit training, and fitness, the TPT group had a marginally higher risk of being injured than the THOR3 group (odds ratio [OR], 2.72; 95% CI, 0.86-8.59; p = .09). Soldiers who did not perform any unit resistance training (ORnone/90-160 min, 3.62; 95% CI, 1.05-12.53; p = .04) or the greatest amount of resistance training (OR>160 min/90-160 min, 3.44; 95% CI, 1.64-7.20; p < .01) were more likely to experience an injury than the moderate-resistance training group. Conclusion: THOR3 appears to offer human performance optimization/injury prevention advantages over other SOF human performance programs.

New and Established Models of Limb Tourniquet Compared in Simulated First Aid

Kragh JF, Newton NJ, Tan AR, Aden JK, Dubick MA 18(2). 36 - 41 (Journal Article)

Background: The performance of a new tourniquet model was compared with that of an established model in simulated first aid. Methods: Four users applied the Combat Application Tourniquet (C-A-T), an established model that served as the control tourniquet, and the new SAM Extremity Tourniquet (SXT) model, which was the study tourniquet. Results: The performance of the C-A-T was better than that of the SXT for seven measured parameters versus two, respectively; metrics were statistically tied 12 times. The degree of difference, when present, was often small. For pretime, a period of uncontrolled bleeding from the start to a time point when the tourniquet first contacts the manikin, the bleeding rate was uncontrolled at approximately 10.4mL/s, and for an overall average of 39 seconds of pretime, 406mL of blood loss was calculated. The mean time to determination of bleeding control (± standard deviation [SD]) was 66 seconds (SXT, 70 ± 30 seconds; C-A-T, 62 ± 18 seconds; p = .0075). The mean ease-of-use score was 4 (indicating easy) on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 indicating very easy (mean ± SD: SXT, 4 ± 1; C-A-T, 5 ± 0; p < .0001). C-A-T also performed better for total trial time, manikin damage, blood loss rate, pressure, and composite score. SXT was better for pretime and unwrap time. All users intuitively self-selected the speed at which they applied the tourniquets and that speed was similar in all of the required steps. However, by time segments, one user went slowest in each segment while the other three generally went faster. Conclusions: In simulated first aid with tourniquets, better results generally were seen with the C-A-T than with the SXT in terms of performance metrics. However, the degree of difference, when present, was often small.

Management of Suspected Tension Pneumothorax in Tactical Combat Casualty Care: TCCC Guidelines Change 17-02

Butler FK, Holcomb JB, Shackelford S, Montgomery HR, Anderson S, Cain JS, Champion HR, Cunningham CW, Dorlac WC, Drew B, Edwards K, Gandy JV, Glassberg E, Gurney J, Harcke T, Jenkins DA, Johannigman J, Kheirabadi BS, Kotwal RS, Littlejohn LF, Martin M, Mazuchowski EL, Otten EJ, Polk T, Rhee P, Seery JM, Stockinger Z, Torrisi J, Yitzak A, Zafren K, Zietlow SP 18(2). 19 - 35 (Journal Article)

This change to the Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) Guidelines that updates the recommendations for management of suspected tension pneumothorax for combat casualties in the prehospital setting does the following things: (1) Continues the aggressive approach to suspecting and treating tension pneumothorax based on mechanism of injury and respiratory distress that TCCC has advocated for in the past, as opposed to waiting until shock develops as a result of the tension pneumothorax before treating. The new wording does, however, emphasize that shock and cardiac arrest may ensue if the tension pneumothorax is not treated promptly. (2) Adds additional emphasis to the importance of the current TCCC recommendation to perform needle decompression (NDC) on both sides of the chest on a combat casualty with torso trauma who suffers a traumatic cardiac arrest before reaching a medical treatment facility. (3) Adds a 10-gauge, 3.25-in needle/ catheter unit as an alternative to the previously recommended 14-gauge, 3.25-in needle/catheter unit as recommended devices for needle decompression. (4) Designates the location at which NDC should be performed as either the lateral site (fifth intercostal space [ICS] at the anterior axillary line [AAL]) or the anterior site (second ICS at the midclavicular line [MCL]). For the reasons enumerated in the body of the change report, participants on the 14 December 2017 TCCC Working Group teleconference favored including both potential sites for NDC without specifying a preferred site. (5) Adds two key elements to the description of the NDC procedure: insert the needle/ catheter unit at a perpendicular angle to the chest wall all the way to the hub, then hold the needle/catheter unit in place for 5 to 10 seconds before removing the needle in order to allow for full decompression of the pleural space to occur. (6) Defines what constitutes a successful NDC, using specific metrics such as: an observed hiss of air escaping from the chest during the NDC procedure; a decrease in respiratory distress; an increase in hemoglobin oxygen saturation; and/or an improvement in signs of shock that may be present. (7) Recommends that only two needle decompressions be attempted before continuing on to the "Circulation" portion of the TCCC Guidelines. After two NDCs have been performed, the combat medical provider should proceed to the fourth element in the "MARCH" algorithm and evaluate/treat the casualty for shock as outlined in the Circulation section of the TCCC Guidelines. Eastridge's landmark 2012 report documented that noncompressible hemorrhage caused many more combat fatalities than tension pneumothorax.1 Since the manifestations of hemorrhagic shock and shock from tension pneumothorax may be similar, the TCCC Guidelines now recommend proceeding to treatment for hemorrhagic shock (when present) after two NDCs have been performed. (8) Adds a paragraph to the end of the Circulation section of the TCCC Guidelines that calls for consideration of untreated tension pneumothorax as a potential cause for shock that has not responded to fluid resuscitation. This is an important aspect of treating shock in combat casualties that was not presently addressed in the TCCC Guidelines. (9) Adds finger thoracostomy (simple thoracostomy) and chest tubes as additional treatment options to treat suspected tension pneumothorax when further treatment is deemed necessary after two unsuccessful NDC attempts-if the combat medical provider has the skills, experience, and authorizations to perform these advanced interventions and the casualty is in shock. These two more invasive procedures are recommended only when the casualty is in refractory shock, not as the initial treatment.

A Case of Rhabdomyolysis Caused by Blood Flow-Restricted Resistance Training

Krieger J, Sims D, Wolterstorff C 18(2). 16 - 17 (Case Reports)

Blood flow-restricted resistance (BFRR) training is effective as a means to improve muscle strength and size while enduring less mechanical stress. It is generally safe but can have adverse effects. We present a case of an active duty Soldier who developed rhabdomyolysis as a result of a single course of BFRR training. He was presented to the emergency department with bilateral lower extremity pain, was admitted for electrolyte monitoring and rehydration, and had an uncomplicated hospital course and full recovery. This is an increasingly common mode of rehabilitation in the military, and practitioners and providers should be aware of it and its possible adverse effects.

A Comparison of Ventilation Rates Between a Standard Bag-Valve-Mask and a New Design in a Prehospital Setting During Training Simulations

Costello JT, Allen PB, Levesque R 17(3). 59 - 63 (Journal Article)

Background: Excessive ventilation of sick and injured patients is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Combat Medical Systems® (CMS) is developing a new bag-valve-mask (BVM) designed to limit ventilation rates. The purpose of this study was to compare ventilation rates between a standard BVM device and the CMS device. Methods: This was a prospective, observational, semirandomized, crossover study using Army Medics. Data were collected during Brigade Combat Team Trauma Training classes at Camp Bullis, Texas. Subjects were observed during manikin simulation training in classroom and field environments, with total duration of manual ventilation and number of breaths given recorded for each device. Analysis was performed on overall ventilation rate in breaths per minute (BPM) and also by grouping the subjects by ventilation rates in low, correct, and high groups based on an ideal rate of 10-12 BPM. Results: A total of 89 Medics were enrolled and completed the classroom portion of the study, with a subset of 36 evaluated in the field. A small but statistically significant difference in overall BPM between devices was seen in the classroom (ρ < .001) but not in the field (ρ > .05). The study device significantly decreased the incidence of high ventilation rates when compared by groups in both the classroom (ρ < .001) and the field (ρ = .044), but it also increased the rate of low ventilation rates. Conclusion: The study device effectively reduced rates of excessive ventilation in the classroom and the field.

Prehospital Administration of Tranexamic Acid by Ground Forces in Afghanistan: The Prehospital Trauma Registry Experience

Schauer SG, April MD, Naylor JF, Wiese J, Ryan KL, Fisher AD, Cunningham CW, Mitchell N, Antonacci MA 17(3). 55 - 58 (Journal Article)

Background: Tranexamic acid (TXA) was shown to reduce overall mortality and death secondary to hemorrhage in a large prospective study. This intervention is time sensitive. As such, the Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) guidelines recommend use of this low-cost, safe intervention among patients with possible hemorrhagic shock, penetrating trauma to the thorax or trunk, or extremity amputation. Objective: Prehospital administration of TXA by ground forces in the Afghanistan combat theater is described. Methods: We obtained data from the Prehospital Trauma Registry. We searched for all patients with documented hypotension, amputation, or penetrating trauma to the torso. Results: From January 2013 to September 2014, there were 272 patients who met inclusion criteria. Most injuries (97.8%; n = 266) were battle injuries. Of the 272 patients who met criteria to receive prehospital TXA, 51 (18.8%) received TXA, whereas the remaining 221 (81.2%) did not. Higher proportions of patients receiving TXA versus patients not receiving TXA received hemostatic dressings, pressure dressings, and tourniquet placement. Conversely, the proportion of patients receiving intravenous fluids was higher in the no-TXA group. Conclusion: Overall, proportions of eligible patients receiving TXA were low despite emphasis in the guidelines. The reasons for this low adherence to TCCC guidelines are likely multifactorial. Future research should seek to identify reasons TXA is not given when indicated and to develop training and technology to increase prehospital TXA administration.

Estimation of Dog-Bite Risk and Related Morbidity Among Personnel Working With Military Dogs

Schermann H, Eiges N, Sabag A, Kazum E, Albagli A, Salai M, Shlaifer A 17(3). 51 - 54 (Journal Article)

Background: Soldiers serving in the Israel Defense Force Military Working Dogs (MWD) Unit spend many hours taming dogs' special skills, taking them on combat missions, and performing various dogkeeping activities. During this intensive work with the aggressive military dogs, bites are common, and some of them result in permanent disability. However, this phenomenon has not been quantified or reported as an occupational hazard. Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study based on self-administered questionnaires. Information was collected about soldiers' baseline demographics, duration of the experience of working with dogs, total number of bites they had, circumstances of bite events, and complications and medical treatment of each bite. Bite risk was quantified by incidence, mean time to first bite, and a Cox proportional hazards model. Rates of complications and the medical burden of bites were compared between combat soldiers and noncombat dogkeepers. Bite locations were presented graphically. Results: Seventy-eight soldiers participated and reported on 139 bites. Mean time of working with dogs was 16 months (standard deviation, ±9.4 months). Overall bite incidence was 11 bites per 100 person-months; the mean time to first bite event was 6.3 months. The Cox proportional hazards model showed that none of baseline characteristics significantly increased bite hazard. About 90% of bites occurred during routine activities, and 3.3% occurred on combat missions. Only in 9% of bite events did soldiers observed the safety precautions code. Bite complications included fractures, need for intravenous antibiotic treatment and surgical repair, prominent scarring, diminished sensation, and stiffness of proximal joints. Bite complications were similar between combat soldiers and dogkeepers. Most bites (57%) were located on hands and arms. Conclusion: MWD bites are an occupational hazard resulting in significant medical burden. Hands and arms were most common bite locations. Observance of safety precautions may be the most appropriate first-line preventive intervention. Barrier protection of upper extremities may reduce bite severity and complication rates.

The Golden Hour Offset Surgical Treatment Team Operational Concept: Experience of the 102nd Forward Surgical Team in Operation Freedom's Sentinel 2015-2016

Benavides JM, Benavides LC, Hale DF, Lundy JB 17(3). 46 - 50 (Journal Article)

Theater Special Operations Force (SOF) medical planners have begun using Army Forward Surgical Teams (FSTs) to maintain a golden hour for U.S. SOF during Operation Freedom's Sentinel required adaptation in FST training, configuration, personnel, equipment, and employment to form Golden Hour Offset Surgical Treatment Teams (GHOST-Ts). This article describes one such FST's experience in Operation Freedom's Sentinel while deployed for 9 months in support of SOF in southern Afghanistan.

Surgical Instrument Sets for Special Operations Expeditionary Surgical Teams

Hale DF, Sexton JC, Benavides LC, Benavides JM, Lundy JB 17(3). 40 - 45 (Journal Article)

Background: The deployment of surgical assets has been driven by mission demands throughout years of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The transition to the highly expeditious Golden Hour Offset Surgical Transport Team (GHOST- T) now offers highly mobile surgical assets in nontraditional operating rooms; the content of the surgical instrument sets has also transformed to accommodate this change. Methods: The 102nd Forward Surgical Team (FST) was attached to Special Operations assigned to southern Afghanistan from June 2015 to March 2016. The focus was to decrease overall size and weight of FST instrument sets without decreasing surgical capability of the GHOST-T. Each instrument set was evaluated and modified to include essential instruments to perform damage control surgery. Results: The overall number of main instrument sets was decreased from eight to four; simplified augmentation sets have been added, which expand the capabilities of any main set. The overall size was decreased by 40% and overall weight decreased by 58%. The cardiothoracic, thoracotomy, and emergency thoracotomy trays were condensed to thoracic set. The orthopedic and amputation sets were replaced with an augmentation set of a prepackaged orthopedic external fixator set). An augmentation set to the major or minor basic sets, specifically for vascular injuries, was created. Conclusion: Through the reorganization of conventional FST surgical instrument sets to maintain damage control capabilities and mobility, the 102nd GHOST-T reduced surgical equipment volume and weight, providing a lesson learned for future surgical teams operating in austere environments.

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