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Acute neurosurgical management of traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury in French armed forces during deployment

Arnaud Dagain, Olivier Aoun, Aurore Sellier, Nicolas Desse, Christophe Joubert, Nathan Beucler, Cédric Bernard, Mathilde Fouet, Jean-Marc Delmas, and Renaud Dulou

This article aims to describe the French concept regarding combat casualty neurosurgical care from the theater of operations to a homeland hospital. French military neurosurgeons are not routinely deployed to all combat zones. As a consequence, general surgeons initially treat neurosurgical wounds. The principle of this medical support is based on damage control. It is aimed at controlling intracranial hypertension spikes when neuromonitoring is lacking in resource-limited settings. Neurosurgical damage control permits a medevac that is as safe as can be expected from a conflict zone to a homeland medical treatment facility. French military neurosurgeons can occasionally be deployed within an airborne team to treat a military casualty or to complete a neurosurgical procedure performed by a general surgeon in theaters of operation. All surgeons regardless of their specialty must know neurosurgical damage control. General surgeons must undergo the required training in order for them to perform this neurosurgical technique.

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The French mobile neurosurgical unit

Renaud Dulou, Arnaud Dagain, Jean-Marc Delmas, Evelyne Lambert, Eric Blondet, Olivier Goasguen, Bruno Pouit, Guillaume Dutertre, François de Soultrait, and Philippe Pernot

The authors present the French concept of a mobile neurosurgical unit (MNSU) as used to provide specific support to remote military medicosurgical units deployed in Africa, South America, Central Europe, and Afghanistan. From 2001 to 2009, 15 missions were performed, for 16 patients. All but 3 of these missions (those in Kosovo, French Guyana, and Afghanistan) concerned Africa. Eleven patients were French soldiers, 3 were civilians, and 2 were Djiboutian soldiers. The conditions that MNSUs were requested for included craniocerebral wounds (2 cases), closed head trauma (7 cases), spinal trauma (5 cases), and spontaneous intracranial hemorrhage (2 cases). In 5 of the 16 cases, neurosurgical treatment was provided on site. All French soldiers and 2 civilians were evacuated to France. The MNSU can be deployed for timely treatment when some delay in neurosurgical management is acceptable.