Author(s): Lebel E, Blumberg N, Gill A, Merin O, Gelfond R,
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Abstract BACKGROUND: An earthquake occurred in Haiti on January 12, 2010. The center of earthquake and the most extensive damage occurred near the capital Port-au-Prince. There were an estimated 230,000 deaths with more than 250,000 others injured. The Israeli Defense Forces Field Hospital (IDF hospital) is a military unit composed of army-recruited (volunteer) medical personnel that was sent to Haiti to serve as a stand-alone center for early response until larger medical missions could become functional and take on the task of more sophisticated and long-lasting medical support. This study describes the use of external fixator frames for orthopedic damage control whereby bone stabilization in conjunction with soft tissue care serves as a stopgap until more comprehensive therapy is forthcoming. METHODS: Data were collected from patients' files (generated at the IDF hospital) regarding the use and immediate outcome of limbs stabilized by external fixator frames. RESULTS: During the 10 days of the IDF hospital's activity, a total of 1,111 patients were admitted; 244 surgical procedures were performed under general or regional anesthesia and of these, the orthopedists performed 221 (90\%) surgical procedures. Seventy-three fractures were stabilized operatively by application of an external fixator. Most of the frames were applied on fractures (closed and open) of the lower limbs (48 on femur and 24 on tibia/fibula). All procedures were performed in a field-style operating room. Sterile technique was possible only for elements actually inserted into the patient. Limb alignment was based on manual palpation: intraoperative fluoroscopy was not available; soft tissue care followed bone stabilization. No patient died. All patients completed urgent stabilization at the IDF hospital and were transferred to other facilities or discharged for home care. CONCLUSIONS: We describe "orthopedic damage control" using external fixator frames for bone stabilization and soft tissue care as a viable approach in the context of a mass casualty scenario. Technical aspects are described in detail in addition to the advantages and limitations of this approach, which could serve as guidelines for future military and civilian scenarios where large-scale orthopedic damage control would be practiced.
This article was published in J Trauma
and referenced in Orthopedic & Muscular System: Current Research