Friday, December 4, 2009

Book Quote: Surgery in War Times

From Coppola: A Pediatric Surgeon in Iraq by Dr. Chris Coppola:

From the forward by Guy Raz (p. X):

The history of warfare has not been generous to soldiers wounded on the battlefield. In the First World War, a wounded infantryman faced an 80 percent chance of dying. By World War Two, that number reached 60 percent. In Vietnam, one out of three wounded never made it. But in Iraq, nearly 97 percent of troops injured in the field have survived. It's an unprecedented rate of survival and a statistic that owes much to the work of military doctors like Christopher Coppola.

And from page 178:

A sad fact is that nothing is better for the rapid advancement of surgical care than the severe and numerous injuries of wartime. With every war, the science of surgery has progressed by leaps and bounds. The Civil War demonstrated how amputation could save lives in the face of devastating tissue destruction caused by the high-velocity Minie ball bullet. In World War I, as the machine gun came into prominence, surgeons realized the importance of aseptic technique and began washing out wounds and debriding dead tissue. World War II brought the revolutionary results of penicillin for wounds infected by the fertile French soil, and prompted public health measures to reduce the lethal effects of malaria in the South Pacific. With Korea came the Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals made famous in Hooker's book MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors and helicopter evacuation to aid in the treatment of wounded troops who would have died on the battlefield in previous wars. In Vietnam, surgeons advanced the treatment of orthopedic and vascular injuries and developed the capability for effective trauma thoracotomy.

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