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The safe and timely provision of blood is of crucial importance in the prevention and mitigation of morbidity and mortality due to trauma. The use of blood in the treatment of war casualties, soldiers as well as civilians, was analyzed retrospectively and the impact of massive blood transfusion on blood banking services and reserves of blood during the war in Sarajevo was assessed.
A retrospective analysis of 3,215 war casualties (1,815 civilians plus 1,400 military) who arrived to the casualty reception center of the State Hospital of Sarajevo during the period 11 May through 31 October 1992 was performed. Blood usage was reviewed in three stages: within 24 hours (h) of admission, after seven days of hospitalization, and after 30 days of hospitalization. The types of injury, survival rate, and blood-usage rate in a sample of 37 war casualties who required massive blood transfusions (MBT) during the period 11 May through 31 December 1992 was examined.
The civilian casualty rate in this series of patients was 56.5%. A total of 1,217/3,215 (37.9%) casualties were hospitalized. In this study, 16% (504/3,215) of total number of persons wounded received blood transfusion. Of these patients, 504/1,217 (41.4%) were transfused. A total of 971.1 liters of blood were transfused through 31 October 1992; 68% within 24 h of admission, 91% within the first seven days, and 100% within the first 30 days. From a total of 37 MBT recipients, 36 (97%) were injured by firearms. Survival rate among MBT patients was 30%. The MBT recipients comprised 2% of total hospitalized patients and 6% of total number of patients transfused. The amount of blood needed during episodes of MBT was 15% of total blood used through 31 December 1992.
Based on these data, prospective requirements for blood usage should take into account casualty triage, as follows: for each casualty transported to the hospital, hospitalized, or transfused, 0.302, 0.796, and 1.912 liters of blood respectively, will be needed for the first 30 days of treatment. Recipients of massive blood transfusions are a significant drain on blood reserves in war. This experience can be utilized in the development of revised guidelines for blood usage for an entire population affected by war.
In war, abdominal injuries constitute a significant proportion of the total injuries. These injuries are associated with high mortality and their treatment poses dianostic, surgical, and therapeutic dilemmas. This article presents the epidemiology of abdominal war injuries during the siege of Sarajevo, and briefly describes the surgical techniques and therapeutic practices used in their treatment.
A retrospective medical record review was performed of 273 war casualties with trauma to visceral and vascular structures in the abdomen inflicted during a 7.5 month period in 1992.
Most patients underwent exploratory laparotomy. Six percent had negative laparotomies, and there were no deaths in this group. In 18.3%, injuries were limited to one organ system, while 81.7% sustained combined injuries to multiple-organ systems. The crude mortality rate was 26.0%. Mortality rate excluding deaths within 24 hours of injury was 10.3%. Injuries were caused by metal fragments from artillery shrapnel, mortar and contact mines, or hand grenades. Because of a shortage of colostomy bags, resections of the colon with primary end-to-end anastomoses rather than colostomy were performed in 72% of the cases.
Mortality was highest in those victims with four or more injured organ systems (81.3%) or with major vascular injuries (64.7%). The primary cause of death within the first 24 hours was prolonged hemorrhagic shock.
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