U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



Published in Surgical Training and Current Military Operations, Vol. 211, No. 5, (2010), 658-661



Since 2001, US military surgeons have deployed frequently, with many surgeons deploying within 1 year of graduating residency. The purpose of this study was to evaluate readiness of recent graduates to manage combat-related injuries and to make recommendations for improvements in training military surgeons.


We reviewed casualties treated at the 31st Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad from December 2003 to November 2004.We identified 3,426 wounded patients; of these, 2,648 (77.3%) required an operative procedure. There were 2,788 patients (81.4%) who sustained penetrating injuries. The most common procedures performed were debridement of wounds (39%), skeletal fixation (14.7%), and exploratory laparotomy (11.4%). Common procedures were compared with 15 case logs from the ACGME database for our institution from 2005 to 2009.


Graduating residents averaged 973 cases during residency (range 867 to 1,293, median 921). This included experience with most procedures encountered except nephrectomy (1.5 procedures per resident [PPR]), craniotomy (1.1 PPRs), inferior vena cava injury (1.1 PPRs), bladder repair (0.87 PPR), and duodenal injury (0.6 PPR). Residents had minimal experience with skeletal fixation and external genital trauma.


Recent surgical residency graduates are prepared for deployment in support of US military operations for the majority of injuries encountered. However, familiarization with procedures that fall outside the traditional general surgical curriculum would improve their ability to treat these injuries. To enhance experience with rare injuries, cadaver studies and animal models may serve as training tools before deployment.