Introduction The objective was to report on the experience of the French Army Health Service in the management of blast injury of the hands related to warfare explosive devices.
Methods A retrospective study was conducted in the Percy Military Hospital (role 4 medical treatment facility) among French soldiers who presented with a combat-related blast injury of the hand between 2002 and 2018. The functional result was assessed by the disabilities of the arm, shoulder and hand (DASH) and the Orthotics and Prosthetics User Survey (OPUS, upper extremity functional status) scores. Proximal amputations (PAs) and distal amputations (DAs) were distinguished for the analysis.
Results Fifteen patients with a mean age of 31±8 years were included. They totalised 20 blasted hands. There were 16 traumatic amputations: 8 in each of the PA and DA groups. Twelve patients had additional injuries, four of which were polytraumatic. Skin closure time and flap use were higher in the DA group. Only one thumb reconstruction was performed. At a mean follow-up of 6.5±4 years, the number of amputees wearing a prosthesis was higher in the PA group. The mean DASH and OPUS scores were 35.5%±24.0% and 64.0%±19.0%, respectively, with no difference between the two groups.
Conclusion The severity of hand blasts related to warfare explosive devices requires the systematic application of damage control surgery. PAs are frequent and secondary reconstruction options are limited. The functional result is poor and similar between proximal and distal amputees.
- blast injury
- damage control
- prosthetic fitting
Data availability statement
All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.
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Contributors GP is the main author. J-CM and AG helped to write the manuscript. BB and AD performed the surgery of many patients. EL and LM directed the study.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.