Caring for Paediatric Trauma Patients during US Military Operations in Iraq & Afghanistan

Research Paper Title

Paediatric Trauma Patient Intensive Care Resource Utilisation in US Military Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Children represent a unique patient population treated by military personnel during wartime, as seen in the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The researchers sought to describe ICU resource utilisation by US military personnel treating paediatric trauma patients in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is a retrospective review of prospectively collected data within Department of Defense Trauma Registry. The researchers studied paediatric casualties treated in US and coalition military hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan between January 2007 and January 2016.


The researchers queried the Department of Defence Trauma Registry for patients less than 18 years with one documented day within an ICU.

They used descriptive statistics to analyse injuries patterns and interventions. They defined prolonged length of stay as ICU stay four days or greater. Regression methodology was utilised to identify factors associated with prolonged length of stay.


There were 1955 (56.8%) paediatric patients that met the inclusion criteria. The most common mechanism of injury was explosive (45.2%) followed by gunshot wounds (20.8%). The median composite ISS was 14. The median length of stay was 3 days with 90.2% surviving to hospital discharge.

Mechanical ventilation was the most frequent intervention (67.6%) followed by arterial access (21.8%). Prolonged length of stay was associated with all serious injuries, ventilator management, blood product administration, wound dressing, bronchoscopy, imaging, and central venous access.


Paediatric casualties accounted for nearly one in 10 admissions with the majority requiring intensive care.

The most commonly performed interventions were mechanical ventilation, vascular access, and imaging, each of which requires a specialised skill set to provide optimal patient management.

All serious injuries by body region except facial were associated with a prolonged length of ICU stay, as well as blood product administration, ventilator management, intracranial pressure monitoring, wound care, bronchoscopy, imaging, and central venous access.

The epidemiology of this unique population may be useful in planning future pre-deployment training and resource management in ICUs in deployed environments.


Gale, H.L., Borgman, M.A., April, M.D. & Schauer, S.G. (2020) Pediatric Trauma Patient Intensive Care Resource Utilization in U.S. Military Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Critical Care Explorations. 1(12), pp.e0062. doi: 10.1097/CCE.0000000000000062. eCollection 2019 Dec.


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