To describe the lessons learned from treatment of war casualties at a public hospital in Denmark.
A retrospective review of soldiers who underwent free flap reconstruction at Rigshospitalet, Denmark, between January 2006 and December 2010.
Nine patients were treated using free flaps. The age distribution was 21-34 years. Extremity fractures associated with considerable soft tissue loss were seen in all cases. The mean time from injury to reconstruction was 13.2 days. A total of 11 free flaps were used, the majority of which were latissimus dorsi flaps (seven out of 11). Flap-loss occurred in one patient, presumably due to leakage at the anastomotic site, which necessitated another free flap procedure. All patients received rehabilitation services following discharge from the inpatient unit, including prosthetic fitting. The mean follow-up time was 26 months.
This report is the first to detail the reconstructive procedures in soldiers treated at a public hospital in Denmark. The treatment of war casualties has not only been a challenge to the surgeons tasked with managing these devastating injuries, but also to Danish healthcare in general. The outcome of multidisciplinary treatment, combining the expertise of various specialties, is highly encouraging. The rate of complications was low, and the aesthetic appearance of the reconstructed limbs and the functional recovery were satisfactory. We therefore recommend the use of free flaps to reconstruct defects resulting from battlefield trauma.