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Blurred front lines: triage and initial management of blast injuries.

Publication Status: Published

Sponsoring Organization: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)

Sponsoring Office: Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

Congressionally Mandated: No

Funding Source: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)

Release Date/Publication: September 01, 2015

Principle Investigator Status: Government

Primary DoD Data Source: Other

Secondary DoD Data Source:


Recent armed conflicts and the expanded reach of international terror groups has resulted in an increased incidence of blast-related injuries in both military and civilian populations. Mass-casualty incidents may require both on-scene and in-hospital triage to maximize survival rates and conserve limited resources. Initial evaluation should focus on the identification and control of potentially life-threatening conditions, especially life-threatening hemorrhage. Early operative priorities for musculoskeletal injuries focus on the principles of damage-control orthopaedics, with early and aggressive debridement of soft-tissue wounds, vascular shunting or grafting to restore limb perfusion, and long-bone fracture stabilization via external fixation. Special considerations such as patient transport, infection control and prevention, and amputation management are also discussed. All orthopedic surgeons, regardless of practice setting, should be familiar with the basic principles of evaluation, resuscitation, and initial management of explosive blast injuries.


Balazs GC, Blais MB, Bluman EM, Andersen RC, Potter BK. Blurred front lines: triage and initial management of blast injuries. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2015 Sep;8(3):304-11.

Last Updated: February 21, 2019

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