Cardiovascular and thoracic battle injuries in the Lebanon War. Analysis of 3,000 personal cases

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1985 May;89(5):723-33.


This report comprises 3,000 casualties of the Lebanon War whom I operated upon for cardiovascular-thoracic injuries in twelve Lebanese hospitals between January, 1969, and July, 1982. These patients were studied retrospectively through 1978 and prospectively thereafter. The logistics, weapons, wounds, and operative results in this study were unique. The patients' injuries can be categorized as follows: primarily thoracic, 1,251 (42%); peripheral vascular, 1,008 (34%); cardiac, 285 (9%); and thoracic mixed, 456 (15%). The male to female ratio was 3.6:1, the mean age 20 years, and the military to civilian ratio 1.7:1. The mean transport distance was 2 miles in 1,740 patients (58%). In patients with thoracic wounds, the incidence of cardiac involvement (14%) was higher than in World War II and Vietnam. The overall survival rate in casualties with cardiac injuries was 73%--best in pericardial, coronary, and right atrial wounds and dropping to 46% in left ventricular wounds, wherein pump failure was also a factor. A 13% (seven deaths) mortality for patients with injuries to the thoracic great vessels contrasted with the 1.2% (14 deaths) mortality for the rest of the patients with noncardiac thoracic wounds. Open thoracotomy in 818 operations (55%) reflected massive wounds and logistics. Pulmonary resection (310 operations) carried a 1.9% (five deaths) mortality and tube thoracostomy (683 operations) for lesser injuries, 0.7% (four deaths.) Thoracoabdominal injuries were 1.5 times more lethal. Fifty percent (504) of nonthoracic vascular wounds occurred in the femoral-popliteal area as a result of sniper attacks. Subintimal damage averaged 8 cm and mandated saphenous vein grafts in 72%. The mortality for injury to the aorta was 60% (12 deaths), contrasted with 1% (three deaths) for injury to extremity vessels. Hemorrhage and cardiac rupture were the most frequent causes of death. Early, proficient, open surgical control after or concomitant with intensive resuscitation proved successful in this special military conflict.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arteries / injuries
  • Female
  • Heart Injuries / epidemiology
  • Heart Injuries / mortality
  • Heart Injuries / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Lebanon
  • Male
  • Thoracic Injuries / epidemiology
  • Thoracic Injuries / mortality
  • Thoracic Injuries / surgery*
  • Warfare*