Friday, November 2, 2012

The Reality of War

Warning: This blog update contains photographs that some may feel unsettling. This content is unsuitable for children.

Up until now, I've decided not to share photographs depicting injured patients. After quite a bit of reflection, I feel this was a mistake. This blog was created to share what it is like to provide combat causality care in Afghanistan as a CRNA. These photographs offer perhaps the most vivid illustration of what is happening in Afghanistan.  Below you will see some of the less graphic photographs that I have taken since I've been here. However, some of the readers may feel that these pictures are difficult to look at.

There are a few caveats I would like to share with the reader before you scroll down to read the rest of this blog update. First, none of these photographs depict American soldiers. I will not publish any pictures of injured Americans on this blog. I do not want to risk a family member or friend recognizing an identifiable feature. Second, I've taken steps to protect the identity of the causalities. Third, these photographs are intended solely for educational purposes. I have immense respect for the Afghans that we take care of here at FOB Sharana. These photos are used purely to illustrate both the realities of war and the challenges we face as a Forward Surgical Team (FST).

This is an IED blast to the lower extremities. The "peppering" pattern is the hallmark of an IED injury. The surgeons are attempting to ligate bleeding blood vessels.

 IED blast to the lower extremity. Note the placement of the tourniquet and the "peppering" pattern of the blast. That's me at the head of the table.

IED blast with injuries to the right upper extremity. The radius was essentially destroyed. The surgeons are placing an external fixation device to stabilize the injury.

IED blast with penetrating injury to neck. This was a tough one. The surgeon had to perform a hemi-thyroidectomy just to get to the tracheal and esophageal injuries.

IED blast with injuries to the face. Note the extensive swelling to the right side of the face. This patient suffered a devastating eye injury as well.

IED blast injury to the chest. The position of the surgeon's thumb indicates one of the two intra-thoracic injuries.

Same patient as above. Note the large entrance wound into the axilla which caused an injury to the right lung.
Gunshot wound to lower extremity. This patient sustained a peroneal artery transection that required repair.

Gunshot wound to left lateral chest.

Gunshot wound. The entrance was through lower back with the exit wound in left upper thigh area. The surgical instrument in the wound is used to illustrate track of projectile.


  1. God bless you for your work and thank you for your unceasing labor of love. ♥
    Thank you for sharing it is important that the general population get a front page view of the injuries of this war. Praying for your safety.

  2. This is very tragic but it is also the risks of serving your county. Thank you for sharing this. It is import that other get to view what happens to those on the Front.

  3. Wow!nice article and containing allot of information about the sadness and reality of war well done.

    sadness and reality of war

  4. Former Combat Medic, these pics are after they've been cleaned and in surgery. Shows some amazing work and terrible wounds. Treating wounded at the point of injury was a gruesome and awesome task in order to get them to you. Good article.