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HOME > J Trauma Inj > Volume 26(3); 2013 > Article
Treatment of Combat-related Gunshot and Explosive Injuries to the Extremities
Jung Eun Lee, Young Ho Lee, Goo Hyun Baek, Kyung Hag Lee, Young Jae Cho, Yeong Cheol Kim, Gil Joon Suh
Journal of Trauma and Injury 2013;26(3):111-124
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1Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
2Trauma Center, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea.
Received: 24 May 2013   • Revised: 22 August 2013   • Accepted: 28 August 2013

We should prepare proper medical service for disaster control as South Korea is not free from terrorism and war, as we experienced through the two naval battles of the Yeonpyeong, one in 1999 and the other in 2002, the sinking of Cheonan in 2010, and the attack against the border island of Yeonpyeong in 2010. Moreover, North Korea's increasingly bellicose rhetoric and mounting military threats against the world demand instant action to address the issue. The aim of this article is to describe our experience with three patients with combat-related gunshot and explosive injuries to their extremities and to establish useful methods for the management of patients with combat-related injuries.
Three personnel who had been injured by gunshot or explosion during either the second naval battle of the Yeonpyeong in 2002 or the attack against the border island of Yeonpyeong in 2010 were included in our retrospective analysis. There were one case of gunshot injury and two cases of explosive injuries to the extremities, and the injured regions were the left hand, the right foot, and the right humerus. In one case, the patient had accompanying abdominal injuries, and his vital signs were unstable. He recovered after early initial management and appropriate emergency surgery.
All patients underwent emergent surgical debridement and temporary fixation surgery in the same military hospital immediately after their evacuations from the combat area. After that, continuous administration of antibiotics and wound care were performed, and definite reconstructions were carried out in a delayed manner. In the two cases in which flap operations for soft tissue coverage were required, one operation was performed 5 weeks after the injury, and the other operation was performed 7 weeks after the injury. Definite procedures for osteosynthesis were performed at 3 months in all cases. Complete union and adequate functional recovery were achieved in all cases.
The patient should be stabilized and any life-threatening injuries must first be evaluated and treated with damage control surgery. Staged treatment and strict adherence to traditional principles for open fractures are recommended for combat-related gunshot and explosive injuries to the extremities.

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