Background During this conflict 34 Field Hospital, the sole Coalition field hospital located in Iraq, received and treated casualties with a wide range of injuries. Located very close to the front line during the period of combat hostilities, it was potentially going to deal with relatively fewer battle injured extremities.
Method A retrospective review of battle casualties admitted to the hospital was carried out based on casualty records and operating theatre logbooks. Data was collected for the period between the 26th March and the 8th May, focusing on casualties who had surgery for battle-injured extremities during the conflict.
Results Sixty eight (55%) of the 124 casualties who underwent surgery did so for battle injuries to extremities. 139 (58%) of all operating theatre episodes and 189 (53%) of all surgical procedures undertaken were for battle-injured extremities. Fourteen major limb amputations were carried out from a total of 87 battle injured limbs that had surgery, giving an amputation rate of sixteen percent (14/87).
Conclusion The experience at 34 Field Hospital confirms that extremity injuries do confer a high surgical workload in war. Surgical resources should, therefore, be aimed at this and surgical teams deployed to such environments should be well versed in the surgical management of casualties with limb trauma.
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