Skip to comments.Surgeons return injured troops to action
Posted on 12/29/2008 4:04:08 PM PST by SandRat
12/29/2008 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- With precision-guided instrumentation and steady hands, a surgical team here is returning injured warfighters to the fight.
Dr. (Maj.) Daniel Todd Rose, orthopedic surgeon, and Dr. (Maj.) Craig Kolasch, general surgeon, both with the 379th Expeditionary Medical Group, handle most of the minor surgeries and injuries in the area of responsibility.
"What we do here is very important," said Doctor Rose, deployed from Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. "Almost every servicemember who doesn't receive care here would most likely be going back to the U.S. or Landstuhl. Once they are in the U.S. they're not coming back.
"Our primary goal is to return people back to duty," said the Nashville, N.C., native "Every person you can return to duty is a person you don't have to pull from the U.S."
Between orthopedic and general surgery, the two doctors have performed more than 153 surgeries and conducted more than 360 appointments since September. More than 95 percent of the surgical patients have successfully reintegrated back into their deployed jobs to continue their contribution in the war effort. More than 80 percent of the surgical patients are Army.
"We have a steady stream of patients coming here because we accept them from all of the different forward operating bases, but they're all smaller, manageable cases," Doctor Rose said.
Labeled as the primary location in the area of responsibility to perform surgery and rehabilitate servicemembers with minor injuries, the majority of forward deployed physicians contact the doctors here to devise plans for appropriate medical care.
"We're an alternative route to provide care for troops instead of sending them outside of the AOR," he said. "We also treat all of the minor injuries of people here and at (a nearby Army base).
"The services we provide here free up space at Landstuhl for people who are more critically injured and it saves the medivacs from making costly flights to and from Germany," Doctor Rose said.
The type of injuries orthopedics commonly see are ring avulsions, knees, crushed hands, severe ankle sprains and fractures.
"If it's a large bone we tend to send the patient back to the U.S.," he said. "We also take care of almost all sports injuries."
For general surgery, it's mostly hernias. What's concerning is that general surgery has seen more than 90 cases and most of them are young, said Doctor Kolasch, deployed from Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.
"It's an interesting phenomenon because back home young people don't generally develop hernias, but the guys we are seeing here are anywhere from 19 to 26 years old and we're seeing a steady flow of them," said the Great Falls, Va., native. "Guys out in the field do a lot of lifting and wear their gear every day. If someone could solve the problem it would put us out of business, but that would be a good thing."
Doctor Kolasch sees a vast majority of the hernia cases in the AOR because the procedures he is able to perform here are less invasive and cause less pain, he said.
"Usually, hernia surgeries can take four to six weeks in recovery time, but we (perform laparoscopic procedures) here and get them back to their (forward operating bases) within two weeks and they're (fully functional) by four weeks," Doctor Kolasch said.
Senior Airman Cara Montgomery watches the monitor as Senior Airman Brittney Hardrick controls a camera so Dr. (Maj.) Craig Kolasch, general surgeon, can see inside a patient during a laparoscopic hernia repair. All Airmen are assigned to the 379th Expeditionary Medical Group. Airman Montgomery is a surgical technician. Airman Hardrick is a cardio pulmonary technician. All are deployed from Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom and Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady)
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