Article Text

The 7th French Airborne Forward Surgical Team experience of surgical support to the population of a low-income country: a prospective study on 341 patients with short-term follow-up


Background The 7th Airborne Forward Surgical Team (FST) has deployed to Chad in 2015 and 2016, in support of French military forces. Humanitarian surgical care is known to represent a significant part of the surgical activity in such missions, but to date limited data have been published on the subject.

Methods All surgical patients from a civilian host population treated by the FST during these missions have been prospectively included. Indications, operative outcomes and postoperative outcomes were evaluated.

Results During this period, the FST operated on 358 patients. Humanitarian surgical care represented 95% of the activity. Most patients (92.7%) were operated for elective surgery. Emergencies and infectious diseases represented, respectively, 7.3% and 9.1% of cases. The mean length of stay (LOS) was three days (2–4), and the median follow-up was 30 days (22–34). Mortality rate was 0.6% and morbidity was 5.6%. Parietal surgery had no significant complication and had shorter LOS (p<0.001). Emergent surgeries were more complicated (p<0.01) and required more reoperations (p<0.05). Surgical infectious cases had longer LOS (p<0.01).

Conclusions Humanitarian surgical care can be provided without compromising the primary mission of the medical forces. Close surveillance and follow-up allowed favourable outcomes with low morbidity and mortality rates. Humanitarian care is responsible for a considerable portion of the workload in such deployed surgical teams. Accounting for humanitarian care is essential in the planning and training for such future medical operations.

  • humanitarian surgical care
  • medical support to population
  • forward surgical team
  • chad

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