U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



Journal of Surgical Research 177 (2012) 282-287; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jss.2012.07.022


Background: The forward surgical team (FST) is the US Army’s smallest surgical element. These teams have supported current conflicts since 2001. The purpose of this study was to determine if surgeon utilization varied at two different FSTs and to determine factors that may predict the need for a surgeon.

Method: Data from two FSTs were reviewed. A t-test was used to compare the military injury severity scores (mISS) and the revised trauma scores (RTS). χ2 analysis was used to compare types and mechanisms of injury and to compare life- or limb-saving surgeries (LLSS) and life-saving interventions among the FSTs. Logistic regression was used to determine if mISS, RTS, physiologic parameters, or laboratory values predicted the need for LLSS or life-saving intervention.

Results: The 541st FST treated a larger volume of patients than the 772nd FST (n = 761 versus n = 311). The 772nd FST performed a significantly higher percentage of LLSS; however, absolute number of LLSS was 31 at both FSTs. The mISS among operative patients were similar, but RTS were significantly different (772nd FST = 7.28 versus 541st FST = 7.58, P = 0.008). The 772nd FST saw a higher percentage of motor vehicle collision and rocketpropelled grenade injuries and thoracic and neurologic injuries, and the 541st FST saw a higher percentage of blast and gunshot wound injuries and abdominal injuries. Lactate level was the most significant predictor of the need for LLSS.

Conclusion: Although percentage of surgical interventions varied between the two FSTs, the absolute number of needed surgical interventions was the same and was small. Lactate level predicted the need for surgical intervention in our population.