Concomitant cranial and ocular injuries were frequently seen in combat casualties during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The incidence of these injuries is reported along with an interventional case series.
A retrospective review was conducted of all surgical patients treated by U.S. Army neurosurgeons and ophthalmologists in Iraq from December 2005 to April 2006.
Out of 104 patients with cranial trauma and 158 patients with ocular trauma, 34 had both cranial and ocular injuries (32.7 and 21.5% of patients with cranial and ocular injuries, respectively). Neurosurgical procedures included exploratory craniotomy, decompressive craniectomy, and frontal sinus surgery. Ophthalmologic surgical procedures included globe exploration, open globe repair, primary enucleation, orbital fracture repair, lateral canthotomy and cantholysis, and repair of lid and periocular lacerations. Patients with cranial trauma had a higher incidence of orbital fracture, orbital compartment syndrome, and multiple ocular injuries compared with patients without cranial trauma (odds ratio 6.4, 3.9, and 3.3, respectively).
A strong association exists between cranial and ocular trauma in combat casualties treated during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Combat health support personnel should maintain a high level of suspicion for one of these injuries when the other is present. Co-locating neurosurgeons and ophthalmologists in support of combat operations facilitates the optimal treatment of patients with these combined injuries.