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American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Neurosurgical Focus, 5(47), p. E13

DOI: 10.3171/2019.8.focus19493

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Characteristics of traumatic brain injury during Operation Enduring Freedom–Afghanistan: a retrospective case series

Journal article published in 2019 by Parantap Patel, Davis Taylor, Min S. Park
Distributing this paper is prohibited by the publisher
Distributing this paper is prohibited by the publisher

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Abstract

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality, especially among members of the armed services. Injuries sustained in the battlefield are subject to different mechanisms than those sustained in civilian life, particularly blast and high-velocity injury. Due to the unique nature of these injuries and the challenges associated with battlefield medicine, surgical interventions play a key role in acute management of TBI. However, the burden of chronic disease posed by TBI is poorly understood and difficult to investigate, especially in the military setting. The authors report the case logs of a United States Navy neurosurgeon, detailing the acute management and outcomes of 156 patients sustaining TBI between November 2010 and May 2011 during the war in Afghanistan. By demographics, more than half of the patients treated were local nationals. By mechanism of injury, blunt trauma (40.4%) and explosive injury (37.2%) were the most common contributors to TBI. Decompressive craniectomies (24.0%) and clot evacuations (14.7%) were the procedures most commonly performed. Nearly one-quarter of patients were transferred to receive further care, yet only 3 patients were referred for rehabilitative services. Furthermore, the data suggest that patients sustaining comorbid injuries in addition to TBI may be predisposed to worse outcomes. Improvements in documentation of military patients may improve knowledge of TBI and further identify potential variables or treatments that may affect prognosis. The increased survivability from TBI also highlights the need for additional research expenditure in the field of neurorehabilitation specifically.