Objective: This study was conducted to assess the type, pattern, and severity of musculoskeletal injuries, as well as the type of simple orthopedic surgical procedures, that can be performed at the site of a disaster.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional study conducted in Battagram, located in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan after the October 2005 earthquake. Researchers arrived in the affected area during the second week after the earthquake, and remained there for one week. During this period, patients were received from distant areas of the district. These patients were admitted to a tent hospital because the district headquarters hospital was completely damaged. Those requiring orthopedic surgical intervention or closed manipulation and plaster of paris casts were included in the study.
Results: Of 110 patients, 61 were female and 49 were male, and 140 bones were involved. In this series, 92 fractures were closed, while 48 were open. A total of 67.3% of the patients were <40 years of age. The tibia was involved in 32.1% of cases and the femur 16.4%. No cases of compartment syndrome were found. Wound debridement was performed in 35 cases. An external fixator was applied to 10 cases of open tibia fractures. Four humerus fractures and a fracture to the radius and ulna were fixed with the Rashnail method. One open femur fracture was repaired with external fixation. Pre- and post-operative antibiotics were administered in all cases. Thirty patients sustained injuries in addition to orthopedic trauma: 13 vertebral injuries, eight head injuries, six fractured ribs, three blunt injuries to the abdomen, and 10 significant soft tissues injuries without bony involvement.
Conclusions: After the earthquake in Battagram, young persons, especially females, were prone to orthopedic injuries, mainly involving the extremities. A comprehensive disaster plan would have helped to manage these emergencies, and further experience is needed for on-site surgical interventions.