Management of Severe Crush Injuries in Austere Environments: A Special Operations Perspective

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Anderson JL, Cole M, Pannell D 22(2). 43 - 47 (Journal Article)

Crush injuries present a challenging case for medical providers and require knowledge and skill to manage the subsequent damage to multiple organ systems. In an austere environment, in which resources are limited and evacuation time is extensive, a medic must be prepared to identify trends and predict outcomes based on the mechanism of injury and patient presentation. These injuries occur in a variety of environments from motor vehicle accidents (at home or abroad) to natural disasters and building collapses. Crush injury can lead to compartment syndrome, traumatic rhabdomyolysis, arrythmias, and metabolic acidosis, especially for patients with extended treatment and extrication times. While crush syndrome occurs due to the systemic effects of the injury, the onset can be as early as 1 hour postinjury. With a comprehensive understanding of the pathophysiology, diagnosis, management, and tactical considerations, a prehospital provider can optimize patient outcomes and be prepared with the tools they have on hand for the progression of crush injury into crush syndrome.

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