Objectives Recent military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in the treatment of children in British Medical facilities. In order to determine how care for children may develop in the future, it is necessary to understand the current situation. The aim of this article is to examine the pattern of paediatric trauma on recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Methods Data was requested from the Joint Theatre Trauma Registry, held at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine in Birmingham, on all trauma calls for patients aged under 16 between the dates 21/3/03 and 31/8/09. Data included age, gender, theatre of operation, injury mechanism and type, trauma scores and destination of the child.
Results 176 children were identified with 16.5% from Iraq and 83.5% from Afghanistan. The overall survival rate was 88.6% with survival rates in Iraq of 89.7% and in Afghanistan of 88.4%. Males accounted for 66.5% of admissions and the commonest age group was age 6-8 years. In 59.1% of total admissions the mechanism of injury was related to explosives. This differed between theatres with explosive injury causing 27.6 % of admissions in Iraq and 63.5% in Afghanistan. Injury Severity Scores (ISS) showed equal numbers of minor and severe injuries with fewer moderately injured patients. The median ISS of all data was nine. The median ISS from Iraq was 16 and the median ISS from Afghanistan was nine.
Conclusions The treatment of children in British medical facilities whilst deployed on operations is likely to continue. An assessment of the injury patterns of paediatric patients on current deployments allows development of training and an understanding of logistic requirements. Data collection will also need to be adapted to meet the needs of paediatric patients. These remain issues that are being addressed by the Defence Medical Services.
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