Characterization of combat-related spinal injuries sustained by a US Army Brigade Combat Team during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Title

Characterization of combat-related spinal injuries sustained by a US Army Brigade Combat Team during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Creator

Schoenfeld Andrew J; Goodman Gens P; Belmont Philip J Jr

Publisher

The spine journal : official journal of the North American Spine Society

Date

2012
2012-09

Description

BACKGROUND CONTEXT: The United States is presently engaged in the largest scale armed conflict since Vietnam. Despite recent investigations into the scope of injuries sustained by soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, little information is available regarding the incidence and epidemiology of spine trauma in this population. PURPOSE: Characterize the incidence and epidemiology of spinal injuries sustained during combat by soldiers of a US Army Brigade Combat Team (BCT) that participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom. STUDY DESIGN: Descriptive epidemiologic study. PATIENT SAMPLE: A total of 4,122 soldiers who served in Iraq with an Army BCT during "The Surge" operation. OUTCOME MEASURES: Spine injury epidemiology was calculated for the BCT, including the spine combat casualty rate, and percent medically evacuated (MEDEVAC). METHODS: Unit rosters were obtained, and a comprehensive database identifying all combat-related spine injuries was created by querying each soldiers' electronic medical record and the unit's casualty rosters. Demographic information was recorded including age, sex, rank, injury mechanism, presence of polytrauma, and injury outcome. Injury outcomes were classified as killed in action, died of wounds, MEDEVAC, or returned to duty. The incidence of spine injuries was determined, and epidemiology was characterized using calculations of the spine combat casualty rate and percent MEDEVAC. Comparisons were made to published reports from previous conflicts. RESULTS: A total of 29 soldiers sustained 31 combat-related spine injuries. These accounted for 7.4% (29 out of 390) of all casualties sustained during combat. Blunt trauma to the spine, often resulting from an explosive mechanism, was encountered in 65% of cases. Closed fractures of the spine occurred in 21% of casualties and open injuries occurred in 7%. The spine combat casualty rate was 5.6 out of 1,000 soldier combat-years, and the percent MEDEVAC was 19%. CONCLUSIONS: This investigation is the first of its kind, documenting the nature of spine trauma in a major American conflict. The incidence of spine injuries in this study is the highest ever documented and is indicative of the tactics used by the enemy in the current war. Given this fact, it is likely that the prevalence of combat-related spine trauma will increase in the future. Larger, more extensive, studies of this kind must be conducted in the future.

Subject

*Iraq War; 2003-2011; Adolescent; Adult; Female; Humans; Incidence; Male; Middle Aged; Military Personnel/statistics & numerical data; Spinal Injuries/*epidemiology; United States/epidemiology; Young Adult

Rights

Article information provided for research and reference use only. All rights are retained by the journal listed under publisher and/or the creator(s).

Pages

771–776

Issue

9

Volume

12

Citation

Schoenfeld Andrew J; Goodman Gens P; Belmont Philip J Jr, “Characterization of combat-related spinal injuries sustained by a US Army Brigade Combat Team during Operation Iraqi Freedom.,” NEOMED Bibliography Database, accessed June 17, 2021, https://neomed.omeka.net/items/show/3786.

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