Disturbing medical findings in warrelated traumatic amputation patients: a clinical descriptive study from Gaza

Objectives
The aim of this study was to explore possible long- term negative health effects of injuries sustained by modern weaponry.

Setting
The study was conducted in Gaza’s main hospital, Al- Shifa Hospital.

Participants
During the last 10 to 15 years, thousands of civilian Palestinians in Gaza have survived numerous military incursions, but with war- related traumatic injuries caused by explosive weapons. It is unclear to which extent the injuries sustained by such modern weaponry may increase survivors’ risks of negative long- term health effects and serious illness. We have reported mechanisms and severity of injury, demographics and psychosocial status among 254 Palestinian patients in Gaza with war- related extremity amputations. Among the same amputees, subgroups of patients presented a variety of alarming symptoms and findings. 94 patients received further diagnostic clinical exploration, radiology imaging and clinical chemistry laboratory tests at the main clinical centre in Gaza, the Al- Shifa Hospital. Results Nine out of ten of the referred patients were young (median 31.5 years) males (88/94, 92.6%). Ultrasound imaging revealed that 19 of 90 patients (20%) had fatty liver infiltration, 3 patients had lung nodules and 10 patients had lung atelectasis on chest CT. Twelve had remaining shrapnel(s) in the chest, five patients had shrapnel(s) in the abdomen and one in the scrotum. We found shrapnel(s) in the amputation stumps of 26 patient’s amputated limbs, while 8 patients had shrapnel in the non- amputated limb. Three patients had liver lesions. Nineteen patients had elevated liver enzymes, 32 patients had elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate and 12 were anaemic. Two patients tested positive for hepatitis C virus and three were positive for hepatitis B virus (HBV). One of the 19 patients with fatty liver tested positive for HBV. Two of the patients with fatty liver infiltration had elevated glycatedhaemoglobin levels and confirmed diabetes mellitus type II.


Conclusion

Nearly half (44, 8%) had remaining metal fragments from explosives of unknown composition harboured in various parts of their bodies. All patients identified with lesions and nodules are being followed up locally. As of now, we cannot anticipate the long- term health consequences of living with metal residuals from modern explosive weapons embedded in body organs and tissue.

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