The Modern "Deck-Slap" Injury-Calcaneal Blast Fractures From Vehicle Explosions

Imperial Blast Biomechanics and Biophysics Group, Imperial College London, United Kingdom.
The Journal of trauma (Impact Factor: 2.96). 07/2011; 71(6):1694-8. DOI: 10.1097/TA.0b013e318227a999
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Anti-vehicle mines and improvised explosive devices remain the most prevalent threat to coalition troops operating in Iraq and Afghanistan. Detonation of these devices causes rapid deflection of the vehicle floor resulting in severe injuries to calcaneus. Anecdotally referred to as a "deck-slap" injury, there have been no studies evaluating the pattern of injury or the effect of these potentially devastating injuries since World War II. Therefore, the aim of this study is to determine the pattern of injury, medical management, and functional outcome of UK Service Personnel sustaining calcaneal injuries from under-vehicle explosions.
From January 2006 to December 2008, using a prospectively collected trauma registry (Joint Theater Trauma Registry), the records of all UK Service Personnel sustaining a fractured calcaneus from a vehicle explosion were identified for in-depth review. For each patient, demographic data, New Injury Severity Score, and associated injuries were recorded. In addition, the pattern of calcaneal fracture, the method of stabilization, local complications, and the need for amputation were noted. Functional recovery was related to the ability of the casualty to return to military duties.
Forty calcaneal fractures (30 patients) were identified in this study. Mean follow-up was 33.2 months. The median New Injury Severity Score was 17, with the lower extremity the most severely injured body region in 90% of cases. Nine (30%) had an associated spinal injury. The overall amputation rate was 45% (18/40); 11 limbs (28%) were amputated primarily, with a further 3 amputated on return to the United Kingdom. Four (10%) casualties required a delayed amputation for chronic pain (mean, 19.5 months). Of the 29 calcaneal fractures salvaged at the field hospital, wound infection developed in 11 (38%). At final follow-up, only 2 (6%) were able to return to full military duty with 23 (76%) only fit for sedentary work or unfit for any military duty.
Calcaneal injuries following under-vehicle explosions are commonly associated with significant multiple injuries including severe lower limb injury. The frequency of associated spinal injuries mandates radiologic evaluation of the spine in all such patients. The severity of the hindfoot injury is reflected by the high infection rate and amputation rate. Only a small proportion of casualties were able to return to preinjury military duties.


Available from: Arul Ramasamy, May 29, 2015
1 Follower
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Calcaneus fractures typically occur as a consequence of axial load. In the civilian population, this is most often because of motor vehicle accidents or falls from height. Early management of these injuries in the military population largely mirrored that of civilian surgeons. However, calcaneus fractures secondary to underfoot blasts became a significant source of morbidity and mortality in World War II. First described in the aftermath of large-scale naval battles between metal-deck ships, this "deck-slap" phenomenon is associated with high rates of concomitant injuries, infection, and amputation. We review the historical and contemporary management of calcaneus fractures by military orthopedic surgeons, as well as detailing the unique challenges faced in managing the soft-tissue component and associated injuries commonly observed in this population. Combat-related calcaneus fractures are associated with very high rates of concomitant injuries and extensive soft-tissue wounds. Despite significant research and technological advances, functional outcomes following these devastating injuries have remained unsatisfying.
    Military medicine 11/2014; 179(11):1228-35. DOI:10.7205/MILMED-D-14-00156 · 0.77 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: A key weapon in the insurgents' armamentarium against coalition and local security forces in Iraq and Afghanistan has been the use of anti-vehicle mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Often directed against vehicle-borne troops, these devices, once detonated, transfer considerable amounts of energy through the vehicle to the occupants. This results in severe lower limb injuries that are frequently limb threatening. Fundamental to designing novel mitigation strategies is a requirement to understand the injury mechanism by developing appropriate injury modelling tools that are underpinned by the analysis of contemporary battlefield casualty data. This article aims to summarise our understanding of the clinical course of lower limb blast injuries from IEDs and its value in developing unique injury modelling test-beds to evaluate and produce the next generation of protective equipment for reducing the devastating effects of blast injury.
    Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps 12/2013; 160(2). DOI:10.1136/jramc-2013-000202 · 0.81 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: While multiple studies have examined amputations that have occurred during the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, none of these studies have provided an overarching characterization of all of these injuries. METHODS: A retrospective study of all major extremity amputations sustained by US Service Members from January 2001 through July 30, 2011, was performed. Data obtained from these amputees included amputation level(s), mechanism of injury, time to amputation, Injury Severity Score (ISS), age, rank, number of trauma admissions, and number of troops deployed. RESULTS: There were 1,221 amputees who met inclusion criteria. These amputees sustained a total of 1,631 amputations. The number of amputations performed each year has increased dramatically in 2010 (196) and the first half of 2011 (160) from 2008 (105) and 2009 (94). The number of amputations performed per every 100 traumatic admissions (3.5-14) and the number of amputations per 100,000 deployed troops (2-14) has also increased in 2010 and the first half of 2011. Most amputations occurred at the transtibial (683, 41.8%) and transfemoral (564, 34.5%) levels. Thirty percent of the amputees (366) sustained multiple amputations, and 14% of all amputations (228) performed involved the upper extremity. There were 127 amputees (10%) who underwent their amputation more than 90 days after the date of injury. CONCLUSION: The number of amputations occurring during the current Iraqi and Afghanistan conflicts has increased in 2010 and the first half of 2011. Most amputations involve the lower extremities, and there is a much higher percentage of amputees who have sustained multiple amputations during current operations than previous conflicts. (J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2012;73: S438-S444. Copyright (C) 2012 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins)
    The Journal of trauma 12/2012; 73. DOI:10.1097/TA.0b013e318275469c · 2.96 Impact Factor