Objective To determine the safety of definitive in-theater facial fracture repair on American military personnel wounded during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Methods A retrospective review of all patients with head and neck trauma treated at the 322nd Expeditionary Medical Group/Air Force Theater Hospital, Balad Air Base, Iraq, from May 7, 2005, through September 18, 2005, was performed. This study focused on the outcomes of wounded American military personnel whose facial fractures were definitively repaired in theater. The criteria used to determine candidacy for definitive in-theater facial fracture repair on American military personnel were (1) the fracture site was exposed through either a soft tissue wound or because of an adjacent surgical approach, (2) treatment would not delay evacuation from theater, and (3) treatment would allow the military member to remain in theater.
Results From May 2005 to September 2005, 207 patients were taken to the operating room and required 388 procedures. A total of 175 patients (85%) were operated on for traumatic injuries, and 52 of these patients required open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) of a facial fracture. Of the 52 patients who underwent an ORIF, 17 were American military personnel. Of the 17 American patients who were definitively treated for their facial fractures in theater, 16 were contacted and/or followed up on the global military medical database. None of these patients developed an Acinetobacter baumannii infection or had a complication caused by the definitive in-theater ORIF. The range of follow-up was 2 months to 11 months, with a mean of 8.3 months.
Conclusions Definitive repair of facial fractures with ORIF on American military personnel in theater is advised when the aforementioned criteria are observed. An otolaryngologist is a crucial member of the head and neck trauma team.