Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Boston Marathon bombings: War-time medicine helps bomb victims

Boston Marathon bombings: War-time medicine helps bomb victims, Civilian doctors tending to patients injured in the Boston Marathon bombings are putting war-time medicine skills to use. Many Boston bomb victims were treated with techniques learned on the battlefield, likely saving lives, the Associated Press reported April 17.

Injuries in the Boston Marathon bombings were initially treated by both lay bystanders and medical personnel with tourniquets. Tourniquets had fallen out of favor after the Vietnam War but made a comeback in Iraq after medical personnel learned to use them properly. In Boston, tourniquets no doubt helped prevent people from bleeding to death because of severe injuries, such as severed arteries and traumatic limb amputations or partial amputations.

Once the bombing patients arrived at Boston hospitals, doctors in some cases performed a quick initial operation to stabilize them. That initial surgery was followed days later by more extensive surgical procedures to preserve tissue — another wartime medicine technique.

Boston doctors have even received advice from Israel, which is all-too-familiar with bomb injuries from nails, ball bearings and other metal objects intended to kill and maim. For instance, Dr. Pinchas Halpern, director of emergency medicine at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, gave lectures in 2005 at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General about responding to attacks, and has been in email contact with doctors in Boston following the Boston Marathon bombings.

And because thousands of U.S. troops have had leg, foot, arm or hand amputations in Iraq or Afghanistan, experts have been able to develop more sophisticated prosthetic limbs — prostheses that may soon help the dozen-plus Boston Marathon bomb victims who had surgical or traumatic amputations.

With Boston looking like a war zone, it may be war-time medicine that helped save lives.

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